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Odl-^ f ^ ^^. / ^ <J' //A^ 




fed by Google 

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Explorers of the Dawn 

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SPRING, j^g 


Knut Hamsun 
Mbn of Affairs 

Roland Pertwee 
The Fair Rewards 

Thomas Beer 
I Walked in Ardbn 

Jack Crawford 
Guest the One-Eyed 

Gunnar Gunnarsson 
The Garden Party 

Katherine MansHeld 
The Longest Journey 

E. M. Forster 
The Soul of a Child 

Ednmn Bjorkman 

Joseph Hergesheimer 
Explorers of the Dawn 

Ma%o de la Roche 
The White Kami 

Edward Alden Jewell 

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Explorers of the Dawn 

b3r^azo de la Roche 
With a Foreword by 
Christopher Morley 

New York 
Alfred • A • Knopf 


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Ca.,^ ^ Cn -s^ . uro , 1 1 i.^ 



PtOaished February, ld» 




JANUARY 27, 1933 

Set up and printBd py the Vail-Baaou Co., Binffhamtoti, N. 7. 
Paper (Warren*e)fumiehed hy Henry Lindenmeyr * Sone^ew York, N. T. 
Bound by the Plimpton Press, Norwood, Mass. 


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But a short while ago, A. de la R. 

laughed with me over the adventures 

of these little fellows. To the memory 

of that happy laughter I dedicate the 


M. de la R. 

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Buried Treasure 




The Jilt 



Explorers of the Dawn 



A Merry Interlude 






DVe Ken John Peel 






Noblesse Oblige 



The Cobbler and His Wife 



The New Day 


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The publisher has asked me to write a note of 
introduction to this book. Surely it needs none; 
but it is a pleasant task to write prefaces for other 
people's books. When one writes a preface to a 
book of one's own, one naturally grovels, depre- 
cates, and has no opportunity to call the friendly 
reader's attention to what the author considers 
the beauties and significances of the work. How 
agreeable, then, to be able to do this service for 

Moreover, one hopes that such a service may 
not be wholly vain. Every book has its own spe- 
cial audience, for whom — very likely uncon- 
sciously — it was written: the group of people, far 
spread over the curve of earth, who will find in 
that particular book just the sort of magic and 
wisdom that they seek. And, as every one who 
has studied the book business knows, books very 
often tragically miss just the public that was wait- 
ing for them. It is such an obscure and nebulous 
problem, getting the book into the hands of the 
people to whom it will appeal. One knows that 


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there are thousands of readers for whom that 
book (whatever it may be) will mean keen pleas- 
ure. But how is one to find them and bring the 
volume to their eyes? 

I owe to the ^'Atlantic Monthly^' my own intro- 
duction to Miss de la Roche's writing. Several 
years ago, when I was acting as a modest peri- 
scope for a publishing house, I read in the ^^ At- 
lantic'' a fanciful little story by her which seemed 
to me so delicate and humorous in fancy, so re- 
freshing and happy in expression, that I wrote to 
the author in the hope of some day luring her to 
offer a book to the house with which I was con- 
nected. We had some pleasant correspondence. 
Time passed: I fell from the placid ramparts of 
the publishing business,, into the more noisy but 
not less happy bustle of the newspaper world. 
But still, though I am not a conscientious corres- 
pondent, I managed to keep occasionally in touch 
with Miss de la Roche. For a while I seemed 
highly unsuccessful as her ambassador into the 
high court of publishing. Then, one day, lunching 
with Mr. Alfred Knopf at a small tavern on Vesey 
Street (which was subsequently abolished by the 
New York City Health Department as being unfit 
to offer what one of the small boys in this book 
calls ^^nushment") I happened to tell him about 
Miss de la Roche's work. I saw his eye, an eye 


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of Special clarity and brilliance, widen and darken 
with that particular emotion exhibited by a pub- 
lisher who feels what is vulgarly known as a 
^^hunchJ' He said he would 'Hook into" the 
matter; and this book is the result. 

The phrase 'Hook into'^ is perhaps appropriate 
as applied to this book. For it is one of those 
books where the eye of the attentive reader sees 
more than a mere sparkling flow of words on a 
running surface of narrative. Of course this is 
not one of those books that ''everybody must 
read.'' It is not likely to become fashionable. 
But it seems to me so truly charming, so felicitous 
in subtle touches of humour, so tenderly moved 
with an under-running current of wistfulness, that 
surely it will find its own lovers; who will be, 
perhaps, among those who utter the names of 
Barrie and Kenneth Grahame with a special sound 
of voice. 

Perhaps, since I myself was one of a family of 
three boys, the story of Angel, Seraph and John, 
makes a prejudicial claim upon my affection. I 
must admit that it is evident the author of the 
book was never herself a small boy: sometimes 
their imperfections are a little too perfect, too 
femininely and romantically conceived, to make 
me feel one of them. They have not quite the 
rowdy actuality of Mr. Tarkington's urchins. 


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But the, fact that the whole story is told with a 
poet's imagination, and viewed through a golden 
cloud of fancy, gives us countervailing beauties 
that a strictly naturalistic treatment would miss. 
Let us not forget that we are in a "Cathedrali 
Town"; and next door is a Bishop. And certainly 
in the vigorous and great-hearted Mary Ellen we 
stand solidly on the good earth of human nature 
as ts. 
It is not the intention of the introducer to anti- 
cipate the reader's pleasure by selfishly pointing 
out some of the dainty touches of humour that will 
arouse the secret applause of the mind. One 
thing only occurs to be said. The scene of the 
tale is said to be in England. And yet, to th^ 
zealous observer, there will seem to be some 
flavours that are hardly English. The language 
of the excellent Mary Ellen, for instance, comes to 
me zvith a distinct cisatlantic sound. Nor can I, 
somehow, visualize a planked back garden in an 
English Cathedral Town. I am wondering about 
this, and I conclude that perhaps it is due to the 
fact that Miss de la Roche lives in Toronto, that 
delightful city where the virtues of both England 
and America are said to be subtly and consum- 
mately blended. Her story, as simple and re- 
freshing as the tune of an old song, and yet so 
richly spiced with humour^ perhaps presents a 


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blend of qualities and imaginations that we would 
only find in Canada; for the Canadians, after all, 
are the true Anglo-Americans. Perhaps they do 
not like to be called so? But I mean it well: I 
mean that they combine the good qualities of both 

And so one wishes good fortune to this book in 
its task — which every book must face for itself — 
of discovering its destined friends. There will be 
some readers, I think, who will look through iti 
as through an open window, into a land of clear 
gusty winds and March sunshine and volleying 
church bells on Sunday mornings, into a land of 
terrible contradictions, a land whose emigres look 
back to it tenderly, yet without too poignant re- 
gret — the Almost Forgotten Land of childhood. 

Christopher Morley. 



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Chapter I: Buried Treasure 

Probably our father would never have chosen 
Mrs. Handsomebody to be our governess and 
guardian during the almost two years he spent 
in South America, had it not seemed the natural 
thing to hand us over to the admirable woman 
who had been his own teacher in early boyhood. 

Had he not been bewildered by the sudden 
death of our young mother, he might have re- 
called scenes between himself and Mrs. Hand- 
somebody that would have made him hesitate to 
leave three stirring ^ boys under her entire 
control. Possibly he forgot that he had had his 
parents, and a doting aunt or two, to pad the 
angularities of Mrs. Handsomebody's rule, and 
to say whether or not her limber cane should seek 
his plumpest and most tender parts. 

Then, too, at that period, Mrs. Handsome- 
body was still unmarried. As Miss Wigmore 
she had not yet captured and quelled the manly 
spirit of Mr. Handsomebody. Froml being a 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

blustering sort of man, he had become, Mary 
Ellen said, very mild and fearful. 

On his demise^ Mrs. Handsomebody was left 
in solitary possession of a tall, narrow house, in 
the shadow of the grey Cathedral in the rather 
grey and grim old town of Misthorpe. Here, 
Angel and The Seraph and I were set down one 
April morning, fresh from the country house, 
where we had been born; our mother's kisses 
still warm, one might say, on our round young 

Unaccustomed to restraint, we were introduced 
into an atmosphere of drabness and restraint, 
best typified, perhaps, by the change from our 
tender, springy country turf, to the dry, blistered 
planks of Mrs. Handsomebody's back yard. 
Angel, fiery, candid, inconstant; the careless pos- 
sessor of a beautiful boys' treble, which was to 
develop into the incomparable tenor of today 
— ^next, myself, a year younger, but equally tall 
and courageous, in a more dogged way — then. 
The Seraph, three years my junior, he was just 
five, following where we led with a blind loyalty, 
"Stubborn, strong and jolly as a pie." 

Truly when I think of us, as we were then, and 
when I remember how we came like a wild dis- 
turbing wind into that solemn house, I am in- 
clined to pity Mrs. Handsomebody. 

Even when she sent us to bed in the colossal 

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Buried Treasure 

four-poster, in the middle of the afternoon, we 
were scarcely downcast, for it was not such a 
bad playground after all, and by drawing the 
curtains, we could shut ourselves completely away 
from the world dominated by petticoats. 

Then there was Mary Ellen, with her "fol- 
lowers," always our jfirm ally, brimming with 
boisterous good health. Looking back, I am con- 
vinced that Mrs. Handsomebody deserves our 


It was Saturday morning, and we three were in 
Mrs. Handsomebody's parlour — ^Angel, and 
The Seraph, and I. 

No sooner had the front door dosed' upon 
the tall angular figure of the lady, bearing her 
market basket, than we shut our books with a 
snap, ran on tiptoe to the top of the stairs, and, 
after a moment's breathless listening, cast our 
young forms on the smooth walnut bannister, and 
glided gloriously to the bottom. 

Regularly on a Saturday morning she went to 
market, and with equal regularity we cast off 
the yoke of her restraint, slid down the bannisters, 
and entered the forbidden precincts of the Par- 

On other week days the? shutters of this grim 


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apartment were kept closed, and an inquisitive 
eye, applied to the keyhole, could just faintly dis- 
cern the portrait in crayon of the late Mr. Hand- 
somebody, presiding, like some whiskered ghost, 
over the revels of the stuffed birds in the glass 
case below him. 

But on a Saturday morning Mary Ellen swept 
and dusted there. The shutters were thrown 
open, and the thin-legged piano and the hair- 
cloth furniture were furbished up for the morrow. 
Moreover Mary Ellen liked our company. She 
had a spooky feeling about the parlour. Mr 
Handsomebody gavei her the creeps, she said, 
and once when she had turned her back she had 
heard one of the stuffed birds twitter. It was a 
gruesome thought. 

When we bounded in on her, Mary Ellen was 
dragging the broom feebly across the gigantic 
green and red lilies of the carpet, her bare red 
arms moving like listless antennae. She could, 
when she willed, work vigorously and well, but 
no one knew when a heavy mood might seize her, 
and render her as useless as was compatible with 
retaining her situation. 

"Och, byes!" she groaned, leaning on her 
broom, "This Spring weather do be makin' me 
as wake as a blind kitten! Sure, I feel this 
mornin' like as if Fd a stone settin' on my stomach, 
an' me head feels as light as thistledown. I 


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Buried Treasure 

wisht the missus'd fergit to come home an' I 
could take a day off — ^but there's no such luck 
for Mary Ellen 1" 

She made a few more passes with her broom 
and then sighed. 

"I think ril soon be lavin' this place," she 

A vision of the house without the cheering 
presence of Mary Ellen rose blackly before us. 
We crowded round her. 

"Now, see here," said Angel masterfully, put- 
ting his arms about her stout waist. "You know 
perfectly well that father's coming back from 
South America soon to make a home for us, and 
that you are to come and be our cook, and make 
apple-dumplings, and have all the followers you 

Now Angel knew whereof he spoke, for Mary 
Ellen's "followers" were a bone of contention 
between her and her mistress. 

"Aw, Master Angel," she expostulated, "What 
a tongue ye have in yer head to be surel Fol- 
lowers, is it? Sure, they're the bane o' me lifel 
Now git out av the way o' the dust, all of yez, or 
I'll put a tin ear on ye !" And she began to swing 
her broom vigorously. 

We ran to the window and looked out but no 
sooner had we looked out than we whistled with 
astonishment at what we saw. 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

First you must know that on the west of Mrs. 
Handsomebody's house stood the broad, ivy-clad 
mansion of the Bishop, grey stone, like the Cathe- 
dral; on the east was a dingy white brick house, 
exactly like Mrs. Handsomebody's. In it lived 
Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer Pegg and their three 

To us they seemed very elegant, if somewhat 
uninteresting people. Mrs. Mortimer Pegg fre- 
quently had carriage callers, and not seldom 
sallied forth herself in a sedate victoria from the 
livery stables. But beyond an occasional flutter 
of excitement when their horses stopped at our 
very gate, there was little in this prim couple to 
interest us. So neat and precise were they as they 
tripped down the street together, that we called 
them (out of Mrs. Handsomebody's hearing) 
Mr. and Mrs. "Cribbage" Pegg. 

Now,, on this morning in mid-spring when we 
looked out of the window our eyes discovered an 
object of such compelling interest in the Pegg's 
front garden that we rubbed them again to make 
sure that we were broad awake. 

Striding up and down the small enclosure was 
a tall old man wearing a brilliant-hued, flowered 
dressing-gown, that hung open at the neck, dis- 
closing his long brown throat and hairy chest, 
and flapping negligently about his heels as he 


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He had bushy iron-grey hair and moustache, 
and tufts of curly grey beard grew around his chin 
and ears. His nose was large and sun-burned; 
and every now and again he would stop in his 
caged-animal walk* and sniff the air as though he 
enjoyed it. 

I liked the old gentleman from the start. 

"Oo-o 1 See the funny old man 1" giggled The 
ISeraph. "Coat like Jacob an' his bwethernl" 

Angel and I plied Mary Ellen with questions. 
Who was he ? Did he live with the Peggs ? Did 
she think he was a foreigner? Mary Ellen, sup- 
ported by her broom, stared out of the window. 

"For th' love of Hivenl" she ejaculated. "If 
that ain't a sight nowl Byes, it's Mr. Pegg's 
own father come home from somewheres in th' 
Indies. Their cook was tellin' me of the time 
they have wid him. He's a bit light-headed, 
y'see, an' has all his meals in his own room — ^th' 
quarest dishes iver — an' a starlin' for a pet, 
mind ye." 

At that moment the old gentleman perceived 
that he was watched, and saluting Mary Ellen 
gallantly, he called out: 

"Good-morning, madam 1" 

Mary Ellen, covered with confusion, drew 
back behind the curtain. I was about to make 
a suitable reply when I saw Mrs. Mortimer Pegg, 
herself, emerge from her house with a very red 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

face, and resolutely grasp her father-in-law's arm. 
She spoke to him in a rapid undertone, and, after 
a moment's hesitation, he followed her meekly 
into the house. 

How I sympathized with himl I knew only 
too well the humiliation experienced by the help- 
less male when over-bearing woman drags him 
ignominiously from his harmless recreation. 

A bond of understanding seemed to be estab- 
lished between us at once. 

The voice of Mary Ellen broke in on my 
reverie. She was teasing Angel to sing. 

"Aw give us a chune. Master Angel before th' 
missus gets back 1 There's a duck. I'll give ye 
a pocket full of raisins as sure's fate!" 

Angel, full of music as a bird, could strum 
some sort of accompaniment to any song on the 
piano. It was Mary Ellen's delight on a Satur- 
day morning to pour forth her pent up feelings 
in one of the popular songs, with Angel to keep 
her on the tune and thump a chord or two. 

It was a risky business. But The Seraph 
mounted guard at the window while I pressed 
my nose against the glass case that held the 
stuffed birds and wondered if any of them had 
come from South America. "How jolly," I 
thought, "to be there with father." 

Tum-te-tum-te-tum, strummed Angel. 

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Buried Treasure 

**Casey would waltz with the strawberry blonde, 
And the — band — ^played- 

His sweet reedy tones thrilled the April air. 

And Mary Ellen's voice, robust as the whistle 
of a locomotive, bursting with health and spirits, 
shook the very cobwebs that she had not swept 

"Casey would waltz with tb' strawberry bbnde, 
And — the — ^band — ^play — don P' . 

Generally we had a faithful subordinate in The 
Seraph. He had a rather sturdy sense of 
honour. On this spring morning however, I 
think that the singing of Mary Ellen must have 
dulled his sensibilities, for, instead of keeping a 
bright lookout up the street for the dreaded form 
of Mrs. Handsomebody, he lolled across the win- 
dow-sill, dangling a piece of string, with the April 
sunshine warming his rounded back. 

And as he dangled the string, Mrs. Hand- 
somebody drew nearer and nearer. She entered 
the gate — she entered the house — she was in the 
parlour 1 1 

Angel and Mary Ellen had just given their 
last triumphant shout, when Mrs. Handsome- 
body said in a voice of cold fury: 

"Mary Ellen, kindly cease that ribald scream- 


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ing. David (David is Angel's proper name) 
get up instantly from that piano stool and face 
me I John, Alexander, face mel" 

We did so tremblingly. 

"Now," said Mrs. Handsomebody, "you 
three boys go up to your bedroom — ^not to the 
schoolroom, mind — and don't let me hear an- 
other sound from you today 1 You shall get no 
dinner. At four I will come and discuss your 
disgraceful conduct with you. Now march!" 

She held the door open for us while we filed 
sheepishly under her arm. Then the door closed 
behind us with a decisive bang, and poor Mary 
Ellen was left in the torture-chamber with Mrs. 
Handsomebody and the stuffed birds. 


Angel and I scurried up the stairway. We 
could hear The Seraph panting as he laboured 
after us. 

Once in the haven of our little room we rolled 
in a confused heap on the bed, scuiHing indis- 
criminately. It was a favourite punishment with 
Mrs. Handsomebody, and we had a suspicion 
that she relished the fact that so much food was 
saved when we went dinnerless. At any rate, 
we were not allowed to make up the deficiency 
at tea-time. 


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We always passed the hours of our confine- 
ment on the bed, for the roo^ was very small 
and the one window stared blankly at the window 
of an unused room in the Peggs' house, which 
blankly returned the stare. 

But these were not dull times for us. As 
Elizabethan actors, striding about their bare 
stage, conjured up brave pictures of gilded halls 
or leafy forest glades, so we little fellows made 
a castle stronghold of our bed; or better still, a 
gallant frigate that sailed beyond the barren walls 
into unknown seas of adventure, and anchored at 
last off some rocky island where treasure lay hid 
among the hills. 

What brave fights with pirates there were, 
when Angel as Captain, I as mate,i with The 
Seraph for a cabin boy, fought the bloody pirate 
gangs on those surf-washed shores, and gained 
the fight, though far out-numbered 1 

They were not dull times in that small back 
room, but gay-coloured lawless times, when our 
fancy was let free, and we fought on empty 
stomachs, and felt only the wind in our faces, 
and heard the creak of straining cordage. What 
if we were on half-rations ! 

On this particular morning, however, there 
was something to be disposed of before we got 
to business. To wit, the rank insubordination 
of The Seraph. It was not to be dealt with 


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too lightly. Angel sat up with a dishevelled 

"Get upl" he commanded The Seraph, who 
obeyed wonderingly. 

"Now, my man," continued Angela with the 
scowl that had made him dreaded the South Seas 
over, "have you anything to say for yourself?" 

The Seraph hung his head. 

"I was on'y danglin' a bit o' stwing," he mur- 

"String" — repeated Angel, the scowl deepen- 
ing, "dangling a bit of string 1 You may be 
dangling yourself at the end of a rope before 
the sun sets, my hearty 1 Here we are without 
any dinner, all along of you. Now see here, 
you'll go right over into that corner by the 
window with your face to the wall and stand 
there all the time John and I playl An' — an' 
you won't know what we're doing nor where 
we're going nor anything — so there!" 

The .Seraph went, weeping bitterly. He hid 
his faoe in the dusty lace window curtain. He 
looked very small. I could not help remember- 
ing how father had said we were to take care of 
him and not make him cry. 

Somehow that morning things went ill with 
the adventure. The savour had gone out of our 
play. Two were but a paltry company after all. 
Where was the cabin-boy with his trusty dirk, 


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eager t6 bleed for the cause? Though we kept 
our backs rigorously turned to the window, and 
spoke only in whispers, neither of us could quite 
forget the presence of that dejected little figure in 
the faded hoUand smock. 

After a bit The Seraph's whimpering ceased, 
and what was our surprise to hear the chuckling 
laugh with which he was wont to signify his 
pleasure ! 

We turned to look at him. His face was 
pressed to the window, and again he giggled 

"What's up, kid?" we demanded. 

"Ole Joseph-an'-his-Bwethern," he sputtered, 
"winkin' an' wavin' hands wiv me 1" 

We were at his side like a shot, and there in 
the hitherto blank window of the Peggs' house 
stood the old gentleman of the flowered dressing- 
gown laughing and nodding at The Seraph 1 
When he saw us he made a sign to us to open our 
window, and at the same instant raised his own. 

It took the three of us to accomplish it, for 
the window moved unreadily, being seldom raised, 
as Mrs. Handsomebody regarded fresh air much 
as she regarded a small boy, as something to be 
kept in its place. 

At last the window rose, protesting and creak- 
ing, and the next moment we were face to face 
with our new acquaintance. 


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"Hello 1" he said, in a loud jovial voice. 

"Hello 1" said we, and stared. 

He had a strong, weather-beaten face, and 
wide-open light eyes, blue and wild as the sea. 

"Hello, boyl" he repeated, looking at Angel, 
"What's your name?" 

Now Angel was shy with strangers, so I 
usually answered questions. 

"His name," I replied then, "is David Curzon 
but mother called him Angel, so we jus' keep on 
doing it." 

"Oh," said the. old gentleman. Then he fixed 
The Seraph with his eye. "What's the bantling's 

The Seraph, mightily confused at being called 
a bantling, giggled inanely, so I replied again. 

"His name is Alexander Curzon, but mother 
called him The Seraph, so we jus' keep on doing 
it too." 

"Um-hm," assented the old gentleman, "and 
you — what's your name?" 

"John," I replied. 

"Oh," he said, with an odd little smile, "and 
what do they keep on calling you?^' 

"Just John," I answered firmly, "nothing else." 

"Who's your father?" came the next question. 

"He's David Curzon, senior," I said proudly, 
"and he's in South America building a railroad 
an' Mrs. Handsomebody used to be his governess 


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when he was a little boy, so he left us with her, 
but some day, pretty soon, I think, he's coming 
back to make a really home for us with rabbits 
an' puppies an' pigeons an' things." 

Our new friend nodded sympathetically. 
Then, quite suddenly, he asked: 

"Where's your mother?" 

'''She's in Heaven," I answered sadly, "she 
went there two months ago." 

"Yesy" broke in The Seraph eagerly, '*but 
she's comin' back some day to make a weally 
home for us I" 

"Shut up !" said Angel gruffly, poking him with 
his elbow. 

"The Seraph's very little," I explained apolo- 
getically, "he doesn't understand." 

The old gentleman put his hand in the pocket 
of his dressing-gown. 

"Bantling," he said with his droll smile, "do 
you like peppermint bull's-eyes?" 

"Yes," said The Seraph, "I yike them— one 
for each of us." 

Whereupon this extraordinary man began 
throwing us peppermints as fast as we could 
catch them. It was surprising how we began 
to feel at home with him, as though we had 
known him for years. 

He had travelled all over the world it seemed, 
and he brought many curious things to the window 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

to show us. One of these was a starling whose 
wicker cage he placed on the? sill where the sun- 
light fell. 

He had got it, he said, from one of the crew 
of a trading vessel off the coast of Java. The 
sailor had brought it all the way from Devon 
for company, and, he added — "the brute had put 
out both its eyes so that it would learn to talk 
more readily, so now, you see, theS poor little 
fellow is quite blind." 

"Blind — ^blind — ^blindl" echoed the starling 
briskly, "blind— blind— blind 1" 

He took it from its cage on his finger. It 
hopped up his arm till it reached his cheek, where 
it began to peck at his whiskers, crying all the 
while in its shrill, lonely tones, — "Blind, blind, 
blind 1" 

We three were entranced; and an idea that 
was swiftly forming in my mind struggled for 

If this wonderful old man had, as he said, 
sailed the seas from Land's End to Ceylon, was 
it not possible that he had seen, even fought 
with, real pirates? Might he not have followed 
hot on the trail of hidden treasure? My cheeks 
burned as I tried to put the question. 

"Did you—" I began, "did you—" 

"Well ?" he encouraged. "Did I what, John ?" 


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**Oh, did you," I burst out, "ever see a pirate 
ship, an' pirates — real ones?" 

His face lit up. 

"Surely," he replied casually, "many an one." 

"Praps — " ventured Angel, with an excited 
laugh, "p'raps you're one yourself 1" 

The' old gentleman searched our eager faces 
with his wide-open, sea blue eyes, then he looked 
cautiously into the room behind him, and, ap- 
parently satisfied! that no one could overhear, 
he put his hand to the side of his mouth, and said 
in a loud hoarse whisper — 

"That I am. Pirate as ever wasl" 

I think you could have knocked me down with 
a feather. I know my knees shook and the room 
reeled. The Seraph was the first to recover, 
piping cheerfully — 

"I yike piwates!" 

"Yes," repeated the old gentleman, reflectively, 
"pirate as ever was. The things I've seen and 
done would fill the biggest book you ever saw, and 
it'd make your hair stand on end to read it — ^what 
with fights, and murders, and hangings, and 
storms, and shipwreck, and the hunt for goldl 
Many a sweet schooner or frigate I've sunk, or 
taken for myself; and there isn't a port on the 
South Seas where women don't hush their chil- 
dren's crying with the fear of Captain Pegg." 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

Then he added hastily, as though he feared he 
had gone too far: 

**But Fm a changed man, mark you — a re- 
formed man. If things suit me pretty well here 
I don't think I shall break out again. It is just 
that you chaps seem so sympathetic makes me tell 
you all this; but you must swear never to breathe 
a word of it, for no one knows but you. My son 
and daughter-in-law think Fm an archaeologist 
It'd be an awful shock to them to find that Fm a 

We swore the blackest secrecy, and were about 
to ply him with a hundred questions, when we saw 
a maid carrying a large tray enter the room be- 
hind him. 

Captain Pegg, as I must now call him, gave us 
a gesture of warning and began to lower his 
window. A pleasant aroma of roast beef came 
across the alley. The next instant the flowered 
dressing-gown had disappeared and the window 
opposite stared blankly as before. 

Angel blew a deep breath. "Did you notice," 
he said, "how different he got once he had told 
us he was a pirate — ^wilder and rougher, and used 
more sailor words?" 

"However did you guess it first?" I asked 

"I think I know a pirate when I see one," he 
returned loftily. "But, oh I say, wouldn't 


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Mrs. Handsomebody be waxy if she knew?" 

"An' wouldn't Mary Ellen be scared stiff if 
she knew?" 

"An' won't we have fun? Hurray 1" 

We rolled in ecstasy on the much-enduring bed. 

We talked excitedly of the possibilities of such 
a wonderful and dangerous friendship. And as 
it turned out, none of our imaginings equalled 
what really happened. 

The afternoon passed quickly. As the hands 
of our alarm clock neared the hour of four we 
obliterated the traces of our sojourn on the bed 
as well as we could, and, when Mrs. Handsome- 
body entered, she found us sitting in a row on the 
three cane-bottomed chairs, on which we hung our 
clothes at night. 

The scolding she gave us was even longer and 
more humiliating to our manhood than usual. 
She shook her hard white finger near our faces 
and said that for very little she would write to 
our father and complain of our actions. 

"Now," she said, in conclusion, "give your faces 
and hands a thorough washing and comb your 
hair, which is disgraceful ; then come quietly down 
to tea." The door closed behind her. 

"What beats me," said Angel, lathering his 
hands, "is why that wart on her chin wiggles so 
when she jaws us 1 I can't keep my eyes off it." 

"It wiggles," piped The Seraph, as he dragged 


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a brush over his curls, " 'cos it's nervous, an' I 
wiggle when she scolds too, 'cos Vm nervous." 

"Don't you worry, old man," Angel responded, 
gaily, "we'll take care of you." 

We were in fine spirits despite our scolding. 
Indeed, we almost pitied Mrs. Handsomebody for 
her ignorance of the wonders amongst which she 
had her being. 

Here she was, fussing over some stuffed birds 
in a glass case, when a live starling, who could 
talk, had perched near her very window sill 1 She 
spent hours in conversation with her Unitarian 
minister, while a real pirate lived next door. 

It was pitiful, and yet it was very funny. We 
found it hard to go quietly down to tea with such 
thoughts in our minds, and after five hours in our 


The next day was Sunday. 

As we sat at dinner with Mrs. Handsomebody 
after morning service, we were scarcely conscious 
of the large, white dumplings that bulgqd before 
us, with a delicious sticky sweet sauce, trickling 
down their dropsical sides. We plied our spoons 
with languid interest around their outer edges, a^s 
calves nibble around a straw stack. Our vagrant 
minds scoured the Spanish Main with Captain 


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Suddenly The Seraph spoke in that cock-sure 
way of his. 

"There's a piwate at Peggs." 

Mrs. Handsomebody looked at him sharply. 

"What's that?" she demanded. At the same 
instant Angel and I kicked him under cover of 
the table. 

"What did you say?" repeated Mrs. Hand- 
somebody sternly. 

"Funny ole gennelman at the Cwibb^ge Peggs," 
replied The Seraph with his mouth full. 

Mrs. Handsomebody greatly respected Mr. 
and Mrs. Mortimer Pegg, and this play of words 
on the name incensed her. 

"Am I to understand Alexander," she gobbled, 
"that you are making game of the Mortimer 

"Yes," giggled the wretched Seraph, "it's a 
cwibbage game. You play it wiv Peggs." 

"Leave the table instantly 1" ordered Mrs. 
Handsomebody. "You are becoming unbear- 

The Seraph cast one anguished look at his 
dumpling and burst into tears. We could hear 
his wails growing ever fainter as he plodded up 
the stairs. 

'*Mary Ellen, remove that dumpling 1" com- 
manded Mrs. Handsomebody. 

Angel and I began to eat very fast. There 


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was a short silence; then Mrs. Handsomebody 
said didactically: 

"The elder Mr. Pegg is a much travelled gentle- 
man, and one of the most noted archaeologists 
of the day. A trifle eccentric in his manner per- 
haps but a deep thinker. David, can you tell 
me what an archaeologist is?" 

"Something you pretend you are," said Angel, 
"and you ain't." 

"Nonsense 1" snapped Mrs. Handsomebody. 
"Look it upi in your Johnson's when you go up- 
stairs, and let me know the result. I will excuse 
you now." 

We found The Seraph lounging in a chair in 
the school-room. 

"Too bad about the dumpling, old boy," I 
said consolingly. 

"Oh, not too bad," he replied. "Mary Ellen 
fetched it up the back-stairs to me. I'm vewy 

That afternoon we saw Captain Pegg go for 
a walk with his son and daughter-in-law. He 
looked quite altered in a long grey coat and tall 
hat. Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer Pegg seemed 
proud to walk with him. 

The following day was warm and sunny. 
When lessons were over we rushed to our bed- 
room window and to our joy we found that the 
wmdaw opposite was wide open, the wicker cage 


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on the sill with the starling inside swelling up 
and preening hi;nself in the sunshine, while just 
beyond sat Captain Pegg smoking a long pipe. 

He seemed delighted to see us. 

"Avast, my hearties!" he cried. "It's glorious 
sailing weather, but I've just been lying at anchor 
here, on the chance of sighting you. It does my 
heart good, y'see, to talk with some of my own 
kind, and leave off pretending to be an archaeolo- 
gist — to stretch my mental legs, as it were. Well 
— ^have you taken your bearings this morning?" 

"Captain Pegg," I broke out with my heart 
tripping against my blouse, "you said something 
the other day about buried treasure. Did you 
really find some? And would you mind telling 
us how you set about it?" 

"Yes," he replied meditatively, "many a sadc 
of treasure trove I've unearthed — but the most 
curious find of all, I got without searching and 
without blood being spilt. I was lying quiet 
those days, about forty years ago, off the north 
of the Orkney islands. Well, one morning I 
took a fancy to explore some of the outlying 
rocks and little islands dotted here and there. 
So I started off in a yawl with four seamen to 
row me; and not seeing much but barren rocks 
and stunted shrubs about, I bent over the stern 
and stared into the sea. It was as clear as cry- 


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**As we were passing through a narrow channel 
between two rock islands, I bade the men rest 
on their oars, for something strange below had 
arrested my attention. li now could see plainly, 
in the green depths, a Spanish galleon, standing 
upright, held as in a vice, by the grip of the two 
great rocks. She must have gone down with all 
hands, when the greater part of the Spanish 
Armada was wrecked on the shores of Britain. 

" *Shiver my timbers, lads,' I cried. 'Here'U 
be treasure in earnest! Back to the ship for 
our diving suits — ^booty for every one, and plum 
duff for dinner!' 

"Well, to make a long story short, I, and four 
of the trustiest of the crew, put on our diving 
suits, and soon we were walking the slippery 
decks once trodden by Spanish grandees and 
soldiers, and the scene of many a bloody fight I'll 
be bound. Their skeletons lay about the deck, 
wrapped in sea-tangle, and from every crevice 
of the galleon, tall, red, and green, and yellow, 
and purple weeds had sprung, that waved and 
shivered with the motion of the sea. Her decks 
were strewn with shells and sand, and in and out 
of her rotted ribs frightened fish darted at our 
approach. It was a gruesome sight. 

"Three weeks we worked, carrying the treasure 
to our own ship, and I began to feel as much 
at home under water as above it. At last we 


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set sail without mishap, and every man on board 
had his share and some of them gave up pirat- 
ing and settled down as inn-keepers and trades- 

As the sound of his deep voice ceased, we three 
were silent also, gazing longingly into his eyes 
that were so like the sea. 

Then — "Captain Pegg," said Angel, in a still, 
small voice, **I don't — s'pose — ^you'd know of 
any hidden treasure hereabouts? We'd most 
awfully like to find some. It'd be a jolly thing 
to write and tell father 1" 

A droll smile flickered over the bronzed 
features of Captain Pegg. He brought down 
his fist on the window-sill. 

"Well, if you aren't chaps after my own 
heart 1" he cried. "Treasure about here? I 
was just coming to that — and a most curious 
happening it is! There was a cabin-boy — ^name 
of Jenks — a lad that I trusted and loved like 
my own son, who stole the greater part of my 
share of the treasure, and, though I scoured the 
globe for him — " the Captain's eyes rolled 
fiercely — "I found neither trace of him nor the 
treasure, till two years ago. It was in Mada- 
gascar that I received a message from a dying 
man, confessing that, shaken by remorse, he had 
brought what was left of the plunder and buried 
It in Mrs. Handsomebody's back yardl" 


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"Mrs. Handsomebody's back yard!" We 
chanted the words in utter amazement. 

"Just that," affirmed Captain Pegg solemnly. 
"Jenks found out that I owned the house next 
door but he dared not bury the treasure there 
because the yard was smoothly sodded, and would 
show up any disturbance; while Mrs. Handsome- 
body's yard, being covered with planks, was just 
the thing. So he simply raised one of the planks, 
dug a hole, and deposited the sack containing 
the last of the treasure, and wrote me his con- 
fession. And there you arel" 

He smiled benignly on us. I longed to hug 

The March wind swooped and whistled down 
the alley, and the starling gave little sharp twit- 
tering noises and cocked his head. 

"When, oh when — " we burst out — "tonight? 
May we search for it tonight. Captain Pegg?" 

He reflected. "No-o. Not tonight. Jenks, 
you see, sent me a plan of the yard with a cross 
to mark where the treasure lies, and I'll have to 
hunt it up so as not to waste our time turning 
up the whole yard. But tomorrow night — ^yes, 
tomorrow at midnight we'll start the search I" 

At dinner that day the rice pudding had the 


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flavor of ambrosia. By nightfall preparations 
were already on foot. 

Firstly the shovel had been smuggled from the 
coal cellar and secreted in a corner of the yard 
behind the ash barrel together with an iron crow- 
bar to use as a lever and an empty sack to aid in 
the removal of the treasure. 

I scarcely slept that night, and when I did my 
mind was filled with wild imaginings. The next 
morning we were heedless scholars indeed, and at 
dinner I ate so little that Mrs. Handsomebody 
was moved to remark jocularly that somebody 
not a thousand miles away was shaping for a 
bilious bout. 

At four o'clock Captain Pegg appeared at his 
window looking the picture of cheerful confidence. 
He said it warmed his heart to be at his old 
profession again, and indeed I never saw a mer- 
rier twinkle in any one's eyes. He had found 
the plan of the yard sent by Jenks and he had 
no doubt that we should soon be in possession 
of the Spanish treasure. 

"But there's one thing, my lads;" he said 
solemnly, "I make no claim whatever to any share 
in this booty. Let that be understood. Any- 
thing we find is to be yours entirely. If I were 
to take any such goods into my son's house, his 
wife would get suspicious, uncomfortable ques- 


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tions would be asked,, and it'd be all up with 
this archaeologist business." 

"Couldn't you hide it under your bed?" I sug- 

"Oh, she'd be sure to find it," he replied sadly. 
"She's into everything. And even if they didn't 
locate it till I am dead, they'd feel disgraced to 
think their father had been a pirate. You'll 
have to take it" 

We agreed, therefore, to ease him of the re- 
sponsibility of his strangely gotten gain. We 
then parted with the understanding that we were 
to meet him in the passage between the two hoil^ses 
pro;nptly at midnight, and that in the meantime 
we were to preserve a calm and commonplace 

With the addition of four crullers and a slab 
of cold bread pudding filched from the pantry, 
our preparations were now complete. 

We were well disciplined little animals; we 
always went to bed without a murmur, but on 
this night we literally flew there. The Seraph 
ended his prayers with — "and for this piwate 
tweasure make us twuly thankful. Amen." 

The next moment we had dived under the bed 
clothes and snuggled there in wild expectancy. 

From half past seven to twelve is a long 
stretch. The Seraph slept peacefully. Angel or 
I rose every little while and struck a match to 


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look at the clock. At nine we were so hungry 
that we ate all io\xt crullers. At eleven we ate 
the slab of cold bread pudding. After that 
we talked less, and I think Angel dozed, but I lay 
staring in the direction of the window, watch- 
ing for the brightness which would signify that 
Captain Pegg was astir and had lighted his gas. 

At last it came — a pale and trembling mes- 
senger, that showed our little room to me in a new 
aspect — one of mystery and grotesque shadows. 

I was on my feet in an instant. I shook 
Angel's shoulder. 

"Up with you!" I whispered, hoarsely, "The 
hour has come !" 

I knew that drastic measures must be taken 
with The Seraph, so I just grasped him under 
the armpits and stood him on his feet without 
a word. He wobbled for a space, digging his 
knuckles in his eyes. 

The hands of the clock pointed to ten minutes 
to twelve. 

Angel and I hastily pulled on our trousers; 
and he, who liked to dress the part, stuck a knife 
in his belt, and twisted a scarlet silk handkerchief 
(borrowed from Mary Ellen) round his head. 
His dark eyes glistened under its folds. 

The Seraph and I went unadorned, save that 
he girt his trusty sword about his stout middle 
and I carried a toy bayonet. 


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Down the inky-black stairs we crept, scarcely 
breathing. The lower hall seemed cavernous. 
I could smell the old carpets and the hair-cloth 
covering of the chairs. We sidled down the 
back hall among goloshes, umbrellas, and Turk's 
Head dusters. The back door had a key like 
that of a gaol. 

Angel tried it with both hands, but though it 
grated horribly, it stuck. Then I had a try, 
and could not resist a triumphant click of the 
tongue when it turned, for Angel was a vain 
fellow and took a rise out of being the elder. 

And when the moonlight shone upon us in the 
yardl — oh, the delicious freedom of it! We 
hopped for joy. 

In the passage we awaited our leader. Be- 
tween the roofs we could see the low half-moon, 
hanging like! a tilted bird's nest in the dark blue 
sky, while a group of stars fluttered near it like 
young birds. The Cathedral clock sounded the 
hour of midnight. 

Soon we heard the stealthy steps of Captain 
Pegg, and we gasped as we saw him, for in place 
of his flowered dressing-gown, he wore breeches 
and top boots, a loose shirt with a blue necker- 
chief knotted at the throat, and, gleaming at 
his side, a cutlass. 

He smiled broadly when he saw us. 

"Well, if you aren't armed — every man-jack 


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of you — even to the bantling 1" he cried. 
"Capital 1" 

"My sword, she's weal,^^ sa!d The Seraph 
with dignity. "Sometimes I fight giants." 

Captain Pegg then shook hands with each of 
us in turn, and we thrilled at being treated as 
equals by such a man. 

"And now to work!" he said heartily. "Here 
is the plan of the yard as sent by Jenks." 

We could see it plainly by the moonlight, all 
neatly drawn out, even to the ash barrel and the 
clothes dryer, and there, on the fifth plank from 
the end was a cross in red ink, and beside it the 
magic word — ^Treasure! 

Captain Pegg inserted the crowbar in a wide 
crack between the fourth and fifth boards, then 
we all pressed our full weight upon it with a "Yo 
heave ho, my hearties!" from our chief. 

The board flew up and we flew down, sprawl- 
ing on the ground. Somehow the Captain, 
versed in such matters, kept his feet, though he 
staggered a bit. 

Then, in an instant, we were pulling wildly at 
the plank to dislodge it This we accomplished 
after much effort, and a dark, dank recess was 

Captain Pegg dropped to his knees and with 
his hand explored cautiously under the planks. 
His face fell. 


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"Shiver my timbers if I can find itl" he mut- 

"Let me tryl" I cried eagerly. 

Both Angel and I thrust our hands in also and 
fumbled among the moist lumps of earth. I felt 
an earth-worm writhe away. 

Captain Pegg now lighted a match and held it 
in the aperture. It cast a glow upon our tense 

"Hold it closer!" implored Angel. "This 
way — right here — don't you see?" 

At the same moment we both had seen the 
heavy metal ring that projected, ever so little, 
above the surface of the earth. We grasped it 
simultaneously and pulled. Captain Pegg lighted 
another match. It was heavy — oh, so heavy! 
— ^but we got it out — a fair-sized leather bag 
bound with thongs. To one of these was at- 
tached the ring we had first caught sight of. 

Now, kneeling as we were, we stared up in 
Captain Pegg's face. His wide, blue eyes had 
somehow got a different look. 

"Little boys," he said gently, "open it!" 

There in the moonlight, we unloosed the 
fastenings of the bag and turned its contents 
out upon the bare boards. The treasure lay dis- 
closed then, a glimmering heap, as though, out 
of the dank earth, we had digged a patch of 


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We squatted on the boards around it, our heads 
touching, our wondering eyes filled with the magic 
of it. 

"It is the treasure," murmured Angel, in an 
awe-struck voice, "real treasure-trove. Will 
you tell us, Captain Pegg, what all these things 

Captain Pegg, squatting like the rest of us, 
ran his hands meditatively through the strange 

"Why, strike me purple," he growled, "if that 
scamp Jenks hasn't kept most of the gold coins 
and left us only the silver 1 But here's three 
golden doubloons, all right, one apiece for yel 
And here's ducats and silver florins, and pieces 
of eight — and some I can't name till I get the 
daylight on them. It's a pretty bit of treasure 
all told; and see here — " he held up two old 
Spanish watches, just the thing for gentlemen 

We boys were now delving into the treasure 
on our own account, and brought to light a brace 
of antiquated pistols, an old silver flagon, a com- 
pass, a wonderful set of chess men carved from 
ivory, and some curious shells, that delighted 
The Seraph. And other quaint things there were 
that we handled reverently, and coins of different 
countries, square and round, and some with holes 
bored through. 


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We were so intent upon our discovery that 
none of us heard the approaching footsteps till 
they were fair upon us. Then, with a start, we 
turned, and saw to our horror Mrs. Handsome- 
body and Mary Ellen, with her hair in curl- 
papers, and, close behind them, Mr. and Mrs. 
Mortimer Pegg, scantily attired, the gentleman 
carrying a revolver. 

"David! John! Alexander!" gobbled Mrs. 

"Now what d'ye think of that!" came from 
Mary Ellen. 

"Father! Have you gone quite mad?" cried 
Mrs. Pegg. 

And — "Oh, I say Governor — " stammered the 
gentleman with the revolver. 

Captain Pegg rose to his feet with dignity. 

"These young gentlemen,"|^ he said, simply, 
"have with my help been able to locate some 
buried treasure, stolen from me years ago by a 
man named Jenks, and hidden here since two 
decades. I hereby renounce all claim to it in 
favour of my three brave friends!" 

Mr. Pegg was bent over the treasure. 

"Now, look here, sir," he said, rather sharply, 
"some of this see;ns to be quite valuable stuff — " 

"I know the value of it to a penny," replied 
his father, with equal asperity, "and I intend it 
shall belong solely and wholly to these boys." 


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"Whatever are you rigged up like that for?" 
demanded his daughter-in-law. 

"As gentlemen of spirit," replied Captain 
Pegg;, patiently, *Ve chose to dress the part. 
We do what we can to keep a little glamour and 
gaiety in the world. Some folk — " he looked 
at Mrs. Handsomebody — "would like to dis- 
cipline it all away." 

"I think," said our governess, "that, consider- 
ing it is my back yard, I have some claim to—" 

"None at all. Madam — none at alll" inter- 
rupted Captain Pegg. "By all the rules of treas- 
ure-hunting, the finder keeps the treasure." 

Mrs. Handsomebody was silenced. She did 
not wish to quarrel with the Peggs. 

Mrs. Pegg moved closer to her. 

"Mrs. Handsomebody," she said, winking her 
white eyelashes very fast, "I really do not think 
that you should allow your pupils to accept this 
' — er — ^treasure. My father-in-law has become 
very eccentric of late, and I am positive that he 
himself buried these things very recently. Only 
day before yesterday, I saw that set of ivory 
chessmen on his writing table." 

"Hold your tongue, Sophia 1" shouted Captain 
Pegg loudly. 

Mr. Mortimer Pegg looked warningly at his 

"All right, Governor ! Don't you worry," he 


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said taking his father's arm. '*It shall be just 
as you say; but one thing is certain, you'll take 
your death of cold if you stay out in this night 
air." As he spoke, he turned up the collar of 
his coat. 

Captain Pegg shook hands grandly with Angel 
and me, then he lifted The Seraph in his arms and 
kissed him. 

"Good-night, bantling," he said, softly. 
"Sleep tight!" 

He turned then to his son. "Mort," said he, 
"I haven't kissed a little boy like that since you 
were just so high." 

Mr. Pegg laughed and shivered, and they went 
off quite amiably, arm in arm, Mrs. Pegg fol- 
lowing, muttering to herself. 

Mrs. Handsomebody looked disparagingly at 
the treasure. "Mary Ellen," she ordered, "help 
the children to gather up that rubbish, and come 
in at once. Such an hour it is 1" 

Mary Ellen, with many exclamations, assisted 
in the removal of the treasure to our bedroom. 
Mrs. Handsomebody, after seeing it deposited 
there, and us safely under the bed-clothes, her- 
self extinguished the gas. 

"I shall write to your father," she said, severely, 
"and tell him the whole circumstance. Then we 
shall see what is to be done with you, and with the 



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With this veiled threat she left us. We snug- 
gled our little bodies together. We were cold. 

"I'll write to father myself, tomorrow, an' 
'splain everything," I announced. 

"D' you know," mused Angel, "I b'lieve I'll 
be a pirate, 'stead of a civil engineer like father. 
I b'lieve there's more in it." 

"I'll be an engineer just the same," said I. 

"I fink," murmured The Seraph, sleepily, "I 
fink I'll jus' be a bishop, an' go to bed at pwoper 
times an' have poached eggs for tea." 



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Chapter II: The Jilt 


The day after the finding of the Treasure, 
Mary Ellen told us that she had seen Captain 
Pegg drive away from his son's house in a closed 
cab, before we had emerged from the four-poster. 
There had been a quarrel, the servants had told 
her, and in spite of all his son and daughter-in- 
law could do, the peppery Captain had left them, 
refusing to divulge the name of his destination. 

"And they do say,'^ Mary Ellen declared, 
"that he's no more fit to be wanderin' about the 
world alone than a babe unborn." 

We smiled at the ignorance of women-servants, 
and speculated much on the Captain's probable 
new adventure. We were confident that he 
would return one day, loaded with fresh booty, 
and full of tales of the sea. 

In the meantime, there was the Bishop. His 
house, as I have said stood between us and the 
Cathedral. It was a benign house, like a sleepy 
^astiff, and seemed to tolerate with lazy in- 


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The Jilt 

difference the presence of its two narrow, high- 
backed neighbours, which with their cold, un- 
blinking windows, looked like sinister, half-fed 

We had not been long at Mrs. Handsome- 
body's before we made friends with Bishop Tor- 
rance. As he walked in his deep, green garden, 
one morning, we three watched him enviously 
over the brick wall, that separated us. We were 
balanced precariously on a board, laid across the 
ash barrel, and The Seraph, losing his balance, 
fell headlong into a bed of clove pinks, almost at 
the Bishop's feet. 

When his yells had subsided and explanations 
asked, and given, Angel and I were lifted over 
the wall, and shaken hands with, and given the 
freedom of the garden. We were introduced 
to the Bishop's niece,, Margery, who was his 
sole companion, though ^e regarded, as one of 
the family, the Fountain Boy who blew cool jets 
of water through a shell, and turned his laugh- 
ing face always upward toward the spires of the 

Thus a quaint friendship sprang up, and, 
though the Bishop had not the dash, and boldness 
of Captain Pegg, he was an understanding and 
high-hearted playfellow. 

I think The Seraph was his favourite. Even 
then, the dignified elegance of the Bishop's life 


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appealed to that infant's love of the comfortable, 
and it tickled the Bishop immensely to have him 
pace solemnly up and down the garden, at his 
side, hands clasped behind his back, helping, as 
he believed, to "pwepare" the Bishop's sermon. 

All three of us were permitted by Mrs. Hand- 
somebody to join the Cathedral choir. 


Thus we had a feeling of proprietorship in 
the Bishop and his garden, and his niece, Mar- 
gery, and the Fountain ^oy. Hence what was our 
astonishment and chagrin to see one morning, 
from our school-room window, a chit of a girl, 
smaller than myself, strutting up and down the 
Bishop's garden, pushing a doll's perambulator. 
She had fluffy golden hair about her shoulders, 
and her skirts gave a rhythmic swing as she 
turned the corners. Now and then she would 
stop in her walk, remove the covering from the 
doll, do some idiotic thing to it, and replace the 
cover with elaborate care. 

We stared fascinated. Then Angel blew out 
his lips in disgust, and said — 

"Ain't girls the most sidkenin' things?" 

"There she goes again, messing with the doll's 
quilt," I agreed. 

"Le's fwow somefing at her!" suggested The 


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"Yes, and get into a row with the Bishop," 
answered Angel. "But I don't see myself going 
over there to play again. She's spoiled every- 

"I s'pose she's a spoiled child," said The 
Seraph, dreamily. "Wonder where her muwer 

"I say," said Angel, "let's rap on the pane, 
and then when she looks up, we'll all stick our 
tongues out at her. That'll scare her all right 1" 

We did. 

When her wondering blue eyes were raised to 
our window, what they saw was three white disks 
pressed against the glass, with a flattened pink 
tongue protruding from each. We glared to see 
the effect of this outrage upon her. But the 
dauntless little creature never quailed. Worse 
than that, she put her fingers to her lips and blew 
three kisses at us — one apiece. 

We were staggered. We withdrew our red- 
dened faces hastily and stared at each other. 
We were aghast. Alnlost we had been kissed by 
a girl! 

"Let's draw the blind 1" said Angel. "She 
shan't see us! Then we can peek through the 
crack and watch her." 

But no sooner was the blind pulled down than 
we heard our governess coming and flew to our 


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"Boysl" she gobbled, stopping in the door- 
way, "what does this mean? The boy who 
pulled down that blind stand up I" 

Angel rose. "The light hurt my eyes," he 
lied feebly, "I aren't very well." 

"Ridiculous 1" snapped Mrs. Handsomebody, 
running up the blind with precision, "this room 
at its brightest is dim. Your eyes are keen enough 
for mischief, sir. Now we shall proceed with 
our' arithmetic." 

We floundered through the Tables, but my 
mind still wandered in the Bishop's garden. Re- 
sentment and curiosity struggled for mastery 
within me. In my mind's eye I saw her covering 
and uncovering the doll. Why did she do it? 
What did it feel like to push that "pram"? 
Would she drink tea from the Indian Tree cups 
and be allowed to strum on the piano? Oh, I 
wished she hadn't come! And yet — anyway, I 
was glad I was a boy. 

As Fate had it, Angel and The Seraph had to 
have their hair trimmed that afternoon. My own 
straight blond crop grew but slowly so I was free 
for an hour to follow my own devices. Those led 
me to climb to the roof of our scullery and from 
there mount the high brick wall. 

From this vantage point I scanned the surround- 
ing country for signs of the interloper. There 
she was! There she was! 


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Down on her knees at the fountain's brink, her 
curls almost touching the water, she was sailing 
boats made of hollyhock petals. The doll's 
perambulator stood near by. 

Noiselessly I crept along the wall till I reached 
the cherry tree that stood in the corner. Reach- 
ing its friendly branches, I let myself down, hand 
over hand, till, at last, I dropped lightly on the 
soft turf. 

I sauntered then to her side, and gazed at her 
moodily. If she saw me she gave no sign. 

In spite of myself I grew interested in the way 
she manipulated those boat petals. Evidently 
there was some system in her game but it was new 
to me. 

"That little black seed on this boat is Jason," 
she said at last, without looking up, "and these 
little white seeds are his comrades. They're 
searching for The Golden Fleece. My hair is the 
Fleece. Come and play!" 

Mutely I squatted beside her, and our two faces 
peered at each other in the mirror of the pool. 

She gave a funny eager little laugh. 

"Oh," she cried, "we match beautifully, don't 
we ? Your hair fs yellow and my hair is yellow, 
my eyes are blue and your eyes are blue." 

"My eyes are grey, like father's," I objected. 

"No, they're blue like mine. We match beau- 
tifully. Let's play something else." Before I 


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could prevent her, she had swept Jason and his 
crew away, and, snatching the doll from the 
perambulator, had set it on the fountain's edge 
between us. 

"This is Dorothea," she announced, "isa't she 
sweet? I'm her mother. You should be the 
father, and Dorothea should want to paddle her 
toes in the fountain. Now you hold her — so." 

Before I was aware of it I was made to grasp 
the puppet by the waist, while her mistress began 
to rearrange the pillows in the "pram." 

I glanced fearfully at our school-room window, 
lest I should be discovered in so unmanly a pos- 
ture. It seemed that we were quite alone and un- 

A drowsy pleasure stole over my senses. The 
humming of the bees in the Canterbury Bells be- 
came a chant as of sirens. Dorothea's silly pink 
feet dangled in the pool. Surreptitiously I slipped 
my hand under water and felt them. They were 
getting spongy and seemed likely to come off. 
Truly there were compensations for such slavery. 

My companion returned and sat down with her 
slim body close to mine. 

"What is your name?" she cooed. 


"Oh. Mine is Jane. You may call me Jenny. 
I'm visiting Aunt Margery. The Bishop is my 
great-uncle. What are your brothers' names?" 


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**Angel and The Seraph. They don't like 
girls." Instantly I wondered why I had said 
that. Did I like girls? Not much. But I 
didn't want Angel interfering in this. He had 
better keep away. 

"My father is a judge. He sends bad men to 

"My father" — I was very proud of him — "is a 
civil engineer. He's in South America building 
a railroad, so that's why we live with Mrs. 
Handsomebody. But some day he's coming back 
to make a home for us. When I grow up I shall 
be an engineer too, and build bridges over 

"What's canyons? Hold Dorothea tighter." 

I explained canyons at length. 

"P'raps I'll take you with me," I added weakly. 

She clapped her hands rapturously. 

"Oh, what fun I" she gurgled. "I can keep 
house and hang my washing 'cross the canyon 
to dry I" 

Frankly I did not relish the thought of my can- 
yon's being thus desecrated. I determined never 
to allow her to do any such thing, but, at the 
moment I was willing to indulge her fancy. 

"Y^s," she prattled on, "I'll wheel Dorothea 
up and down the bridge and watch you work." 

Now there was some sense in that. What man 
does not enjoy being admired while he does 


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things? In fact Jane had hit upon a great 
elemental truth when she suggested this. From 
that moment I was hers. 

Laying Dorothea, toes up, on the grass I pro- 
ceeded to lead Jane into the most cherished realms 
of my fancy. Together we sailed those "perilous 
seas in faery lands forlorn," dabbling our hands 
in the fountain, while the golden August sunshine 
kissed our necks. 

I said not a word of this at tea. I munched 
my bread and butter in a sort of haze, scarcely 
conscious of the subdued conversation led by Mrs. 
Handsomebody, until I heard her say, 

"A little great-niece of Bishop Torrance is visit- 
ing next door. You are therefore invited to take 
tea with her tomorrow afternoon. I trust you 
will conduct yourselves with decency at table, and 
remember that a frail little girl is not to be played 
with as a headlong boy." 

I felt that she couldn't tell me anything about 
frail little girls, but I kept my knowledge to my- 
self. The Seraph said^ — 

"Was you ever a fwail little gel, Mrs. Hand- 
somebody?" Our governess fixed him with her eye. 

"I was a most decorous and obedient little girl, 
Alexander, and asked no impertinent questions of 
my elders." 

"Was Mary Ellen a fwail little gel?" persisted 
The Seraph. 


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"No," snapped Mrs. Handsomebody, "judging 
from her characteristics as a servant, I should 
say that she was a very riotous, rude little girl. 
Now drink your milk." 

"I yike wiotous wude people," said The Seraph 
with his face in the tumbler; the milk trickled 
down his chin. 

"Leave the table, Alexander," conunanded Mrs. 
Handsomebody, "your conduct is quite inexcus- 
able." The Seraph departed, weeping. 

All that evening I thought about Jane. I had 
no heart for a pillow fight. At night I dreamed 
of her, and saw her weekly washing, suspended 
from a line, fluttering in the wind that raced along 
my canyon. 

I strained toward the hour when I should meet 
her at tea. I had never felt like this before. 
True, I had once conceived a violent fancy for 
a fat young woman in the pastry shop, but she 
had been replaced by a thin young woman who 
did not appeal to me, and the episode was for- 

But, oh, this bitter-sweetness of my love for 
Jane ! My despair when I found that she was to 
sit next Angel at tea, till I discovered that, seated 
opposite, I could stare at her, and admire how she 
nibbled her almond cake and sipped tea from an 
apple-green cup. 

After tea we played musical chairs, in the li- 

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brary, with Margery at the piano. First marched 
The Seraph with his brown curls bobbing; and 
after him, the stout Bishop in his gaiters; next 
Angel; then Jane on tiptoes; and lastly myself in 
squeaky new boots. 

Seraph and the Bishop were soon out of it 
They were invariably beaten in our games, though 
afterward they always seemed to think they had 
won. So Angel, Jane, and I were left, prancing 
around two solemn carved chairs. The music 
ceased with a crash. Jane leaped to one chair 
while Angel and I fell simultaneously upon the 
other. We both clung to it desperately, but he 
dislodged me, inch by inch, and I, furious at being 
balked in my pursuit of Jane, struck him twice in 
the ribs, then ran into the dim hall and hid myself. 

There Jane found me, and there her tender lips 
kissed my hot cheek, and she squeezed me in her 
arms. For a moment we did not speak, then she 
whispered — 

"I wish you had got the chair, John. I love 
you best of all." 

That night I hung about the kitchen while 
Mary Ellen was setting bread to rise. The time 
had come when I must speak to some fellow 
creature of this tremendous new element that had 
come into my life. I watched Mary Ellen's stout 
red arms as she manipulated the dough, in much 
perplexity. The kitchen was hot, the kettle sang, 


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it seemed a moment for confidence, yet words 
were hard to find. 

At last I got out desperately: 

"Mary Ellen, what is love like?" 

"Love is it, Masther John? What do the likes 
o' me know about love thin?" She smiled 
broadly, as she dexterously shifted the puffy white 

"Oh, you know," I persisted, " 'cos you've been 
in it, often. You've had lots of 'followers' now, 
Mary Ellen, haven't you?" 

"Well, thin, if ye must know, I'll tell ye point 
blunt to kape out av it. It's an awful thing whin 
it gits the best av ye." 

"But what's it feel likef I probed. 

Mary Ellen wiped the flour off each red fin- 
ger in turn, and gazed into the flame of the 

"It's like this," she said solemnly, "ye burns 
in yer insides till ye feel like ye had a furnace 
blazin' there. Thin whin it seems ye must bust 
wid the flarin' av it, ye suddintly turns cowld as 
ice, an' yer sowl do shrivil up wid fear. An' 
thin, at last, ye fergit all about it till the nixt 
wan happens along. Och — I haven't had a sphell 
fer months! This is an awful dull place. I 
think I'll be quittin' it soon." 

"Oh, no, no, Mary Ellen!" I cried, alarmed, 
"you mustn't leave us! When Jane and I get 


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married you can come and live with us." I 
blushed furiously. 

"And who might Jane be?" demanded Mary 
Ellen, suspiciously. 

"She's the Bishop's great-niece," I explained 
proudly. "I love her terribly, Mary Ellen. It 
hurts in here." I pressed my hand on my 

"Well, well." She shook her head commis- 
eratingly. "I'm sorry fer ye, Masther John — 
sthartin' off like this at your age. Here's the 
spoon I stirred the cake wid — have a lick o' that. 
It'll mebbe help ye." 

I licked pensively at the big wooden spoon, 
and felt strangely soothed. My admiration for 
Mary Ellen increased. 

As I slowly climbed the stairs for bed, visions 
of Jane hovered in the darkness above me — airy 
rainbows, with Jane's laughing face peering be- 
tween the bars of pink and gold. I had never 
known a little girl before, and Jane embodied 
all things frail and exquisite. 

When I entered our room Angel was sitting 
on the side of the bed, pulling his shirt over his 
head. The Seraph already slept in his place next 
the wall. 

I stood before Angel with folded arms. 

"Hm," he muttered crossly, "you've been lickin' 


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batter I It's on the end of your nose. Why 
didn't you get me something?" 

"There was nothing but dough," I explained, 
"and one batter spoon. And — and — I say. 

"Well?" asked my elder tersely. 

"I — Pm in love something awful. It hurts. 
It's like this—" I hurried on— "You feel like 
you'd a furnace blazing in you, an' then you turn 
cold jus' as if you'd shrivel up, but you never, 
never, forget, an' — It's made a 'normous dif- 
ference in my life. Angel — " 

I got no further. Angel had thrown himself 
backward on the bed and, kicking his bare legs 
in the air, broke into peals of delighted laughter. 

"It's that yellow-faced little Jenny!" he gur- 
gled, "Oh, holy smoke !" 

His brutal mirth was short-lived. Mrs. Hand- 
somebody appeared in the doorway, her face gen- 
uinely shocked at the sight that met her austere 

At this hour — such actions — ^was her house to 
be turned into Bedlam? — such indecent display 
of limbs — she was sick with shame for Angel — 
would discuss his conduct further, with him, to- 

She waited while I undressed and stood over 
us while we said our prayers at the side of the 


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bed, at last extinguishing the light with a final 
admonition to be silent. 

I was bitterly disappointed in Angel. It was 
the first time he had failed me utterly. I put 
my arms around the sleeping Seraph and cried 
myself to sleep. 


We were awakened by the sonorous music of 
the Cathedral chimes. It was Sunday. That 
meant stiff white Eton collars, and texts gabbled 
between mouthfuls of porridge; and, later, our 
three small bodies arrayed in short surplices, and 
the long service in the Cathedral. The Seraph 
was the very smallest boy in the choir. I think 
he was only tolerated there through Margery's 
intervention, because it would have broken his 
loyal little heart to be separated from Angel and 
me. He was highly ornamental too, as he col- 
lected the choir offertory in a little velvet bag, 
his tiny surplice jauntily bobbing, and the back of 
his neck, as an old lady once said, was more touch- 
ing than the sermon. 

Angel had a voice like a flute. 

Beyond the tall choir stalls I could catch fleet- 
ing glimpses of Jane's little face beneath her 
daisied hat, looking on the same prayer-book with 
Margery. I swelled my chest beneath my surplice 
and chanted my very loudest in the hope that 


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Jane might hear me. "O ye Showers and Dew, 
bless ye the Lord: praisef him, and magnify him 
for ever." 

Her dreamy blue eyes peered over the edge of 
the book, the daisies on her hat nodded; she 
smiled; I smiled ecstatically bade at her; and so 
two childish hearts stemmed the flood of praise 
that rose above the old grey pillars. 

At dinner, over his bread pudding, The Seraph 
murmured in a throaty voice — "When you is in 
love, first you bums yike a furnace, an' en you 
shwivel up wiv the cold. It's a vewy bad fing to 
be in love." 

I threw Angel a bitter look. This was his 
doing. So, contemptuously, had he treated my 
confidence, made as man to man. To tell the ir- 
responsible Seraph of all people I 

"What's that, Alexander?" questioned Mrs. 
Handsomebody, sharply. 

"It's love," replied The Seraph, meekly, "you 
catch it off a girl. John's got it." 

Mrs. Handsomebody sank back in her chair 
with a groan. 

"Alexander," she said it solemnly, "I tremble 
for your future. You are not the boy your father 
was. I tremble for you." 

"John," she continued, turning to me, "you will 
come into the parlour with me. I wish to have 
a talk with you. David and Alexander, you may 


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amuse yourselves with one of my bound volumes 
of The Quiver; " 

I followed her with burning cheeks into the 
stiff apartment where not only her eye was riveted 
upon me, but every glittering eye of every stuffed 
bird, to say nothing of the pale fixed gaze of Mr. 

Needless to recall the lecture I received, the 
probing into my reluctant heart, the admonition 
which I could not heed for my fearful watching 
of that hard grey face. 

But, at last, it was over. I slipped into the 
hall, closing the door softly behind me, and 
listened. Silence abounded. On tiptoe I made 
my way to the kitchen. It was clean and empty. 
I noiselessly opened the back door. On the door- 
step sat The Seraph busily engaged with a cater- 

"Where's Angel?" I demanded curtly. 

"I fink," breathed The Seraph, stroking the 
caterpillar the wrong way, and then looking at 
his fingers, "I fink that he's witin' to father to 
tell on you. So there I" 

I waited to hear no more. Casting my care 
behind me I sped lightly along the passage be- 
tween the houses, crossed the Bishop's lawn, and 
sought Jane in the garden. 

There I stood a moment, dazzled, by the 
golden August sunshine, the iridescent spray of 


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the fountain, and the brilliant colours of the 
hollyhocks beside the wall. 

I saw Jane there, and my heart swelled with 
disappointment and rage — for she was not alone 1 

Too late I repented my confidence to Angel; 
I might have known that he would never let 
the grass grow under his feet till he had tasted 
this new excitement. Well, he had not let the 
grass grow. 

Jane, I remember, had on a pale blue sash, 
and a fluffy white frock, beneath the frills of 
which, her slender blade silk legs moved airily. 
By her side sauntered the traitorous Angel, his 
head bent toward her tenderly, and, most 
sickening of all, pushing before him, with an 
air of proprietorship, the perambulator contain- 
ing the doll, Dorothea. Jane was simpering up 
at him in a way she had never looked at me. 

I saw at a glance that all was over, yet I was 
not to be cast aside thus lightly. I strode across 
the garden, and, pushing myself between them, 
I laid my hand masterfully on the handle of the 
"pram," beside Angel's. Neither of them ut- 
tered a word. So the three of us walked for 
a space in tense silence. 

Then, suddenly. Angel began to hammer my 
hand with his fist. 

"You let go of that I" he snarled. "Ge— tout 
of here r 


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"I won't I" I roared tragically. "She said I 
was the fa-ather of it!" 

"She did not I" yeUed Angel. "I'm the 

Jenny glanced fearfully at the windows of the 
Bishop's house. All was silent there. Then, 
with a scornful little kick at me, she said — "Go 
'way, you nasty boy! / don't want you. I only 
like Angel." 

There was nothing more to be said. I hung 
my head, and, with a sob in my throat, turned 
away. I could hear them whispering behind 

Before I reached our own yard Angel came 
running after me. 

"Tell you what I'll do, John," he said, as he 
came abreast, "tell you what I'll do— I'll fight you 
for her. Like knights of old, you know. We 
could go down to the coal cellar, and have a 
reg'lar tourney. It'd be bully fun. We could 
have pokers for lances. Say, will you?" 

I was not in a fighting mood, but I had never 
refused a challenge, and, somehow, the thought 
of bloodshed eased my pain a little. So, half- 
reluctantly, I followed him, as he eagerly led the 
way to the coal cellar. 

Even on this August day it was cold down 
there. Long cobwebs trailed, spectre-like from 


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the beams, and a faint squeaking of young mice 
could be heard in the walls. 

We searched among the debris of years for 
suitable weapons. Finally, brandishing pokers, 
and with two rusty boiler lids for shields, we 
faced each other, uttering our respective battle 
cries in muffled tones. Angel had put a battered 
coal scuttle over his head for a helmet; and, 
through a break in it, I could see his dark eyes 
gleaming threateningly. 

With ring of shield we clashed together. I 
delivered — and receivec^^ — stunning blows. Dust, 
long undisturbed, rose, and blinded us. 

How many a gallant fray has been broken up 
by a screaming woman I Now Mary Ellen, true 
to the perversity of her sex, rushed in to separate 

"Oh, losh I I never seen the beat o' ye I" she 
cried. "YeVe scairt me out av a year's growth I 
Sure the missus'U put a tin ear on ye, if she catches 
ye in the cellar in yer collars an' all!" Imper- 
iously she disarmed us, and, without ceremony, we 
were hustled up the dark stairs to the kitchen sink. 

"It was a tournament, Mary Ellen, about a 
lady," I explained, with as much dignity as I 
could muster, "you shouldn't have interrupted." 

"There ain't a lady livin' that's worth messin' 
up yer clane clothes for," said Mary Ellen, 


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sternly. "Lord! To sec the cinders in yer hair, 
an' the soot in yer ears — it does bate all — " As 
she talked, she scrubbed us vehemently with a 

"Ouchl" moaned Angel, "oh, Mary El-len, 
you're hurting me! That's my so-ore spot, 
eeeoow 1" 

"Well, Master Angel," said Mary Ellen, "I 
don't want to hurt ye, but it do make me heart- 
sick to see ye bashin' aitch other wid pokers for 
the sake av a bit girl that's not worth a tinker's 
curse to ye I Now thin — here's a piece of cowld 
puddin' to each av ye — sit on the durestep where 
the missus won't see ye, an' git outside av it." 

In a chastened mood we sat outside the back 
door and ate our pudding. It was cold, clammy, 
very sweet, and deliciously satisfying. 
' To our right the wall excluded any glimpse of 
the Bishop's garden, and beyond loomed the 
Cathedral, with two grey pigeons circling about 
its spire. 

I yearned to know what was going on beyond 
the wall. I could not help fancying that Jane, 
touched by remorse, was weeping by the fountain 
for me, and me only. Angel spoke. 

"I say — " he hunched his shoulders mis- 
chievously — "let's go 'round and see what she's 
doin' all alone, eh?" 

i leaped to the proposal. I had an insati- 


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able desire to hear her speak once more, if it were 
only to taunt me. 

We made the passage stealthily; all the world 
seemed drowsing on that hazy Sunday afternoon. 
The blinds in the Bishop^s study were drawn. 
Little did he guess the life his great-niece led! 

The grass was like moist velvet beneath our 
feet. A pair of sparrows were quarrelling over 
their bath at the fountain rim. We heard a low 
murmur of voices. A glint of Jane's white frock 
could be seen behind a guelder rose near the 
fountain. We crept up behind and peered 
through the foliage. 

There on a garden bench sat Jane, and there, 
clasped in her slim white arms was — ^The Seraph 1 
The wretched Dorothea lay, face downward, on 
the grass at their feet. 

We strained our ears to hear what was being 
said. Jane spoke in that silvery voice of hers: 

"Say some more drefful things. Seraph. I jus' 
love to hear you." 

There was a moment's silence; then. The 
Seraph said in his blandest tone, the one word — 

"Blood 1" 

Jane gave a tiny, ecstatic shriek. 

"Oh, go on I" she begged, "say more." 

"Blood," repeated The Seraph, firmly, "Hot 
blood — told blood — ^wed blood — thick blood^ — 
thin blood — ^bad blood." 


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Again Jane squealed in fearful pleasure. 

"Go on," she urged. "Worser." 

Thus encouraged, The Seraph rapped out, with- 
out more ado, "Tiger blood — ephelant blood — 
caterpillar blood— ole witch blood" — then, after 
a pause, that the horror of it might sink deep in 
—"Baby blood 1" 

Angel and I gave each other a look of en- 
lightenment. It was gore then, that this deli- 
cately nurtured young person craved, good red 
gore, and plenty of it ! Well — enough — ^we were 
free. Wait! What was she saying? 

"I hate those other boys. Seraph, darling. 
Let's jus' you and me play together always. And 
you should be Dorothea's father, and Dorothea 
should want to paddle in the — " 

Awayl Away! With sardonic laughter, we 
sped along the pebbled drive, nor stopped until 
we reached our own domain. 

Then in the planked back yard, we sat on our 
steps, with a volume of "The Quiver" on our 
knees, in case Mrs. Handsomebody should invade 
our privacy, and played a roUiddng game of 
pirates. And when any of the fair sex fell into 
our hands we were none too gentle with them. 

"Chuck 'em overboard, lieutenant!" was Cap- 
tain Angel's way of dealing with the case. 

Just as the Cathedral clock struck five. The 


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Seraph swaggered up. He stopped before us, 
hands deep in pockets. 

"Well," said Angel, eyeing him resentfully, 
"you'll make a nice bishop, you will, usin' the 
language we heard a bit ago!" 

"Maybe I shan't have time to be a bishop, after 
all," replied The Seraph, condescendingly. 
"You see I'm goin' to mawy Jane. It'll keep me 
vewy busy." 


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Chapter III: Explorers of the 


Fast on the winged heels of Love came our dis- 
covery of the Dawn. Of course we had known 
all along that there was a sunrise — a mechanical 
sort of affair that started things going like clock- 
work. But Dawn was a bird of another feather. 

If we had had our parents with us they would 
have, in all likelihood, unfolded the mystery of 
it in some bed-time visit; but Mrs. Handsome- 
body, if she ever thought about the Dawn at all, 
probably looked on it with suspidon, and some 
disfavour, as a weak, feeble thing — a nebulous 
period fit neither for honest folk nor cutthroats. 

So it came about that we heard of it from our 
good friend the Bishop. Mrs. Handsomebody 
had given a grudging permission for us to take 
tea with him. In hot weather her voice and eyes 
always seemed frostier than usual. The closely 
shut windows and drawn blinds made the house 
a prison, and the glare of the planked back yard 


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was even more intolerable. Therefore, when 
Rawlins, the Bishop's butler, told us that we were 
to have tea in the garden, it was hard for us to 
remember Mrs. Handsomebody's injunction to 
walk sedately and to bear in mind that our host 
was a bishop. 

But, as we crossed the cool lawn, our spirits, 
which had drooped all day, like flags at half- 
mast, rose, and fluttered in the summer breeze, 
and we could not resist a caper or two as we ap- 
proached the tea-table. 

The Bishop did not even see us. His fine 
grave face was buried in a book he had on his 
knees, and his gaitered iQgs were bent so that he 
toed in. 

When we drew up before him, Angel and I in 
stiff Eton collars and The Seraph fresh as a daisy, 
in a clean white sailor blouse, he raised his eyes 
and gave us a vague smile, and a wave of the 
hand toward three low wicker chairs. We were 
not a bit abashed by this reception, for we knew 
the Bishop's ways, and it was joy enough that 
we were safe in his garden staring up at the blue 
sky through flickering leaves, and listening to the 
splash of the little fountain that lived in the mid- 
dle of the cool grass plot. 

Surely, I thought, there never was such another 
garden — never another with such a rosy red 
brick wall, half-hidden by hollyhocks and lark- 


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spur — such springy, tender grass — such a great 
guardian Cathedral, that towered above and 
threw its deep beneficent shade I Here the timor- 
ous Cathedral pigeons strutted unafraid, and 
dipped their heads to drink of the fountain, rais- 
ing them Heavenward, as they swallowed — thank- 
ing God, so the Bishop said,' for its refreshment. 

It was hard to believe that next door, beyond 
the wall, lay Mrs. Handsomebody's planked back 
yard. Yet even at that moment I could see the 
tall, narrow house, and fancied that a blind 
moved as Mrs. Handsomebody peered down into 
the Bishop's garden to see how we behaved. 

Rawlins brought a tray and set it on the wicker 
table beside the Bishop's elbow. We discovered 
a silver muffin dish, a plate of cakes, and a glass 
pot of honey, to say nothing of the tea. 

Still the Bishop kept his gaze buried in his 
book, marking his progress with a blade of grass. 
Rawlins stole away without speaking and we three 
were left alone to stare in mute desire at the tea 
things. A bee was buzzing noisily about the 
honey jar. It was The Seraph wlio spoke at last, 
his hands clasped across his stomach. 

"Bishop," he said, politely, but firmly. "I 
would yike a little nushment." 

"Bless mel" cried the Bishop. "Wherever are 
my manners?" And he closed the book sharply 


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on the grass blade, and dropped it under the table. 
"John, will you pour tea for us?" 

We finished the muffins and cake, all talking 
with our mouths full, in the most sociable and 
sensible way; and, after the honey pot was almost 
empty, we made the bee a prisoner in it, so that, 
like that Duke of Clarence, who was drowned in 
a butt of Malmsey, he got enough of what he 
liked at last. 

I think it was Angel who put the question that 
was to lead to so much that was exciting and 

He said, leaning against the Bishop's shoulder : 
"What do you think is the most beautiful thing 
in the world. Bishop?" 

Our friend had The Seraph between his knees, 
and was gazing at the back of his head. "Well," 
he replied, "since you ask me seriously, I should 
say this little curl on The Seraph's nape." 

The Seraph felt for it. 

"I yike it," he said, "but I yike my wart better." 

"Good gracious," exclaimed the Bishop. 
"Don't tell me you've a wartl" 

"Yes, a weal one," chuckled The Seraph. "It's 
little, but it's gwowing. I fink some day it'll be 
as big as the one on Mrs. Handsomebody's chin. 
It can wiggle/' 

"You don't say sol" said the Bishop, rather 


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hastily. *'And where do you suppose you got 

The Seraph smiled mischievously. "I fink I 
got it off a toad we had. He was an awful dear 
ole toad, but he died, 'cos we — " 

"Oh, I say, don't bother about the old toad, 
Seraph 1" put in Angel hastily, feeling, as I did, 
that the manner of the toad's demise was best 
left to conjecture. "We want to hear about the 
most beautiful thing in the world. Please tell 
it. Bishop!" 

"Well — since you corner me," said the Bishop, 
his eyes on the larkspur, "I should say it is the 
wing of that pale blue butterfly, hovering above 
those deep blue flowers." 

Angel's face fell. "Oh, I didn't mean a little 
thing like that," he said. "I meant a 'normous, 
wonderful thing. Something that you couldn't 
ever forget." 

"Well — if you will have it," said the Bishop, 
"come close and I'll whisper." Instantly three 
heads hedged him in, and he said in a sonorous 
undertone — ''It's the Dawn'' 

"The Dawnl" We three repeated the magic 
words on the same note of secrecy. "But what is 
it like? How can we get to it? Is it like the 

"I won't explain a bit of it," he replied. 
"You've got to seek it out for yourselves. It's 


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a pity, though, you can't see it first in the country." 

"Must we get up in the dark?" 

"Yes. I think your tallest attic window faces 
the east. You must steal up there while it's still 
grey daylight. Have the^ windows open so that 
you can hear and smell, as well as see it. But 
I'm afraid the dear Seraph's too little." 

"Not me," asserted The Sereph, stoutly. 
"I'm stwong as two ephelants." 

"You mustn't be frightened when you hear its 
wings," said the Bishop, "nor be abashed at the 
splendour of it, for it was designed for just such 
little fellows as you. You will come and tell me 
then what happens, won't you? I shall probably 
never waken early enough to see it again." . . . 


Though we played games after this, and the 
Bishop made a very satisfactory lion prowling 
about in a jungle of wicker chairs and table legs, 
we none of us quite lost sight of the adventure 
in store for us. Somewhere in the back of our 
heads lurked the thought of the Dawn with its 
suggestion of splendid mystery. 

We were no sooner at home again than we set 
about discussing ways and means. 

"The chief thing," said Angel, "is to waken 
about four. We have no alarm clock, so I s'pose 
we'll just have to take turns in keeping watch iall 


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night. The hall clock strikes, so we can watch 
hour about." 

**ril take first watch 1" put in The Seraph, 

"You'll take just what's given to you, and no 
questions, young man," said Angel, out of the 
side of his mouth, and The Seraph subsided, 

Came bedtime at last, and the three of us in 
the big four-poster ; the door shut upon the world 
of Mrs. Handsomebody, and the windows firmly 
barred against burglars and night air. 

Angel announced: "First watch for me I 
You go right to sleep, John, and I'll wake you 
when the clock strikes ten. Then you'll feel nice 
and fresh for your watch." 

But I wasn't at all sleepy and we lay in the 
dusk and talked till the familiar harsh voice of 
the hall clock rasped out nine o'clock. 

"You go to sleep, please John," whispered 
Angel in a drowsy voice, "and I'll watch till ten." 

I felt drowsy too, so I put my arm about the 
slumbering Seraph and soon fell fast asleep. 

It seemed to. me but a moment when Angel 
roused me. I know I had barely settled down 
to an enjoyable dream in which I was the only 
customer in an ice-cream parlour, where there 
were seven waitresses, each one obsequiously 
proffering a different flavour. 


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'^Second watch on deckl" whispered Angel, 
hoarsely — "and look lively 1" 

**But Fd only just put my spoon in the straw- 
berry ice," I moaned, "Can't be ten minutes yet." 

"Oh, I say," complained Angel, "don't you 
s'pose I know when the old clock strikes ten? 
YouVe been sleepin' like a drunken pirate and 
no mistake. Must be near eleven by now." 

"I'll just see for myself," I declared. "I'll go 
and look at the schoolroom clock." And I be- 
gan to scramble over him. 

"You will not then — " muttered Angel, clutch- 
ing me. "I shan't let you!" 

"You won't, eh? If it's really ten you needn't 
care, need youl" 

"Course it's ten — It's nearer eleven, but you're 
going to do what I say." 

At that we came to grips and fought and 
floundered till the bed rocked, and the poor little 
Seraph clung to his pillow as a shipwrecked sailor 
to a raft in a stormy sea. Exhaustion alone 
made us stop for breath ; still we clung desperately 
to each other, our small bodies pressed hotly 
together, Angel's nose flattened against my ear. 
The Seraph snuggled up to us. "Just you wait" 
— ^breathed Angel — his hands tightened on me, 
then relaxed — ^his legs twitched — '"Strawberry or 
pineapple, sir?" came the dulcet tones of the wait- 
ress. I was in my ice-cream parlour again! 


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Seven flavours were laid before me. I fell to, 
for I was hot and thirsty. 

I was disturbed by The Seraph, singing his 
morning song. It was a tuneless drone, yet not 
unmusical. Always the first to open his eyes in 
the morning, he began his day with a sort of 
Saga of his exploits of the day before, usually 
meaningless to us but fraught with colour from 
his own peculiar sphere. At last he laughed out- 
right^ — a Jovian laugh — at some remembered 
prank — and I rubbed my eyes and came to full 
consciousness. The sun was slanting through 
the shutters. Where, oh where, was the Dawn? 

I turned to look at Angel. He was staring 
at the slanting beam and swearing softly, as he 
well knew how. 

"We'll simply have to try again" — I said. 
"But however are we going to put in today?" 

The problem solved itself as all problems will 
and the day passed, following the usual land- 
marks of porridge, arithmetic, spelling, scoldings, 
mutton, a walk with our governess, bread and 
butter, prayers, and the (for once, longed fori) 

That night we decided to lie awake together; 
passing the time with stories, and speculation 
about the mystery so soon to be explored by us. 
I told the first story, a long-drawn adventure of 
shipwreck, mutiny and coral Caves, with a fair 


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sprinkling of skeletons to keep us broad awake. 

"It was a first-rate tale," sighed Angel, con- 
tentedly, when I had done, "an' you told it 
awfully well, John. If you like you may just 
tell another 'stead o' me. Or The Seraph can 
tell one. Go ahead, Seraph, and make up the 
best story you know how." 

The Seraph, important, but sleepy, climbed 
over me, so that he might be in the middle, and 
then began, in a husky little voice : 

"Once upon a time there was fwee bwothers, all 
vwey nice, but the youngest was the bwavest an' 
stwongest of the fwee. He was as stwong as two 
bulls, an' he'd kill a dwagon before bweakfast, an' 
never be cocky about it — " 

Angel and I groaned in unison. We could not 
tolerate this sort of self-adulation from our junior. 
"Don't be such a little beast" — ^we admonished, 
and covered his head with a pillow. The Seraph 
was wont to accept such discipline, at our hands, 
philosophically, with no unseemly outcries or 
struggles; as a matter of fact, when we uncovered 
his head, we could tell by his even, reposeful 
breathing that he was fast asleep. It was too 
dark to see his face, but I could imagine his com- 
placent smile. 

The night sped quiddy after that. There was 
some desultory talk; then Angel, too, slept; I re- 
solved to keep the watch alone. I heard the 


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sound of footsteps in the street below, echoing, 
with a lonely sound; the rattle of a loose shutter 
in a sudden gust of wind; then, dead silence, 
followed after an interval by the scampering, and 
angry squeak of mice in the wall . . . 

The mice disturbed me again. There was a 
shattering of loose plaster ; and suddenly opening 
my eyes, I saw the ghost of grey daylight stealing 
underneath the blind. The time had come 1 


Silently the three of us stole up the uncarpeted 
attic stair. It was unknown territory to us, hav- 
ing been forbidden from the first by Mrs. Hand- 
somebody, and all we had ever seen from the hall 
below was a cramped passage, guarded by three 
closed doors. Time and time again we had been 
tempted to expix^re it, but there was a sinister 
jdoofness about it that had hitherto repelled us. 
Now, however, it had become but a patHway to 
(fhe Dawn, and, as we clutched the bannisters, we 
imagined ourselves three pilgrims fearfully climb- 
ing toward light and beauty. 

Angel stood first at the top. Gently he tried 
fevo doors in successsion, which were locked. The 
foird gave, harshly — it seemed to me, grudgingly. 

The Seraph and I pressed close behind Angel, 
glad of the warm contact of each other's bodies. 


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In the large attic room, the air was stifling, and 
the sloping roof, from which dim cobwebs were 
draped, seemed to press toward the dark shapes 
of discarded furniture as though to guard some 
fearful secret. It took all our courage to grope 
our way to the low casement, and it was a struggle 
to dislodge the rusty bolt, and press the window 
out on its unused hinges. It creaked so loudly 
that we held our breath for a moment, but we 
drew it again with a sharp sensation of relief, as 
thirsty young animalsi drink, for fresh night air, 
sweet, stinging to the nostrils, had surged in upon 
us, sweeping away fear, and loneliness, and the 
hot depression of the attic room. 

Mrs. Handsomebody's house was tall, and we 
could look down upon many roofs and chimneys. 
They huddled together in the soft grey light as 
though waiting for some great happening which 
they expected, but did not understand. They 
wore an air of expectancy and humility. Little 
low-roofed out-houses pressed close to high walls 
for shelter, and a frosty white skylight stared up- 
ward fearfully. 

"Isf this the Dawn?" came from The Seraph, 
in a tiny voice. 

"Only the beginning of it," I whispered back. 
"There's two stars left over from the night — see 1 
that big blue one in the east, and the little white 
one just above the cobbler's chimney/' 


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"Will they be afwaid of the Dawn, when it 

"Rather. I shouldn't be surprised if the big 
fellow bolted right across the sky, and the little 
one will p'raps fall down the cobbler's chimney 
into his work-room." 

The Seraph was enchanted. "Then the 
cobbler'll sew him wight up in the sole of a shoe, 
an' the boy who wears the shoe will twinkle when 
he wuns, won't he? Oh, it's coming now I I 
hear it. I'm afwaid." 

"That's not the Dawn," said Angel, "that's the 
night flying away." 

It was true that there came to us then a rushing 
sound, as of strong wings; our hair was lifted from 
our hot foreheads; and the casement rattled on 
its hinges. 

This wind, that came from the wings of night, 
was sharp with the fragrance of heather and the 
sea. One fancied how it would surge through the 
dim aisles of cathedral-like forests, rufiling the 
plumage of drowsy birds, stirring the surface of 
some dark pool, where the trout still slept, and 
making sibilant music among the drooping reeds. 

The sky had now become delicately luminous, 
and a streak of saffron showed above the farthest 
roofs; a flock of little clouds huddled together 
above this, like timorous sheep at gaze. The 
white star" hung just above the cobbler's chimney, 


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dangerously near, it seemed to us, who watched. 

There were only two of us at the window now, 
for Angel had stolen away to explore every corner 
of the new environment, as was his custom. I 
could hear the soft opening and shutting of bureau 
drawers, and once, a grunting and straining, as of 
one engaged in severe manual labour. 

A low whistle drew me to his side. 

"What's up?" I demanded. 

"Got this little old trunk open at last," he 
muttered, "full of women's junk. Funny stuff. 

Our heads touched as we bent curiously over 
the contents. It was a dingy and insignificant box 
on the outside, but it was lined with a gaily 
coloured paper, on which nosegays of spring 
flowers bent beneath the weight of silver butter- 
flies, and sad-eyed cockatoos. The trays were 
full, as Angel had said, of women's things; 
delicate, rufiiy frocks of pink and lilac; and under- 
garments edged with yellowing lace. A sweet 
scent rose from them, as of some gentle presence 
that strove to reach the lig^t and air once more. 
A pair of little white kid slippers looked as though 
they longed to twinkle in and out beneath a soft 
silk skirt. Angel's mischievous brown hands 
dived among the light folds, discovering opera 
glasses, — (treasures to be secured if possible, 
against some future South Sea expedition), an in- 


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laid box of old-fashioned trinkets, a coral neck- 
lace, gold-tasselledi earrings, and a brooch of 
tortured locks of hair. 

Angel's eyes were dancing above a gauze fan 
held coquettishly against his mouth of an impudent 
boy, but I gave no heed to him ; I was busy with a 
velvet work-box that promised a solution of the 
mystery — for hidden away with thimble and 
scissors as one would secrete a treasure, was a fat 
little book, "The Mysteries of Udolpho." 
Some one had drawn on the fly leaf, very beauti- 
fully, I thought, a ribbed sea-shell, and on it had 
printed the words, "Lucy from Charles;" and on 
a scroll beneath the shell, in microscopic char- 
acters— "Bide the Timel" 

My brother was looking over my shoulder now. 
We were filled with conjecture. 

"Lucy," said Angel, "owned all this stuff, and 
Charles was her lover, of course. But who was 
she ? Mrs. Handsomebody never had a daughter, 
I know, and if she had she'd never have allowed 
her to wear these things. Look how she jaws 
when Mary Ellen spends her wage on finery. I'll 
bet Lucy was a beauty. And she's dead too, you 
can bet, and Charles was her lover, and likely he's 
dead too. 'Bide the time,' eh? You see they're 
waitin' around yGt-somewheres. Isn't it queer?" 

The Seraph's voice came from the window in 
a sort of chant: 


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"The little white star has fallen down the 
cobbler's chimney 1 

"It has fallen down, and the cobbler is sewing 
it into a shoe ! 

"A milkman is wunning down the stweet 1 

"Tell you what," whispered Angel, "I'll show 
you what Lucy was like — just a little. I'll make 
a picture of her." 

The space between two tall chests of drawers 
formed a sort of alcove in which stood a pier 
glass, whose tarnished frame was draped in 
white net. Before it Angel drew (without much 
caution) a high-backed chair, and on it he began 
his picture. 

Over the seat and almost touching the floor, he 
draped a frilled petticoat, and against the badk 
of the chair (with a foundation of formidable 
stays for support) he hung a garment, which, 
even then, he seemed to know for a camisole. 
Over all he laid a charming lilac silk gown, and 
under the hem in the most natural attitude peeped 
the little party slippers. A small lace and velvet 
bonnet with streamers was hung at the apex of 
'the creation, and in her lap (for the time has 
come to use the feminine pronoun) he spread 
the gauzy fan. He hung over her tenderly, as 
an artist over his subject— each fold must be in 
place — the empty sleeves curved just so — one 
fancied a rounded chin beneath the velvet 


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streamers, so artfully was it adjusted. Her re- 
flection in the pier glass was superb I 

"It is here 1" chanted The Seraph. "Evwy bit 
of evwy fing is shininM Oh, Angel an' John, 
please lookl" 

We flew to the window and leaned across the 

It was a happy world that morning, glowing 
in the sweetest dawn that ever broke over roofs 
and chimney pots. The earth sang as she danced 
her dewy way among the paling stars. The little 
grey clouds blushed pink against the azure sky. 
Blossoming boughs of peach and apricot hutig 
over the gates of heaven, and rosy spirals curled 
upward from two chimneys. Pink-footed 
pigeons strutted, rooketty-cooing along the roofs. 
They nodded their heads as though to affirm 
the consummation of a miracle. "It is so — «" 
they seemed to say — "It is indeed so — " One 
of them hopped upon the cobbler's chimney, peer- 
ing earnestly into its depths. "It sees the starl" 
shouted The Seraph. "It sees the star and nods 
to it. *I ant higher now than you' — it saysl" 

Something — ^was it a breath? a sigh? — made 
me look back into the attic where Lucy's clothes 
clung to the high-backed chair, like flower petals 
blown against a wall. The pier-glass had 
caught all the glory of the morning and was re- 
leasing it In quivering spears of light that daz- 


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zled me for a moment; I rubbed my eyes, and 
stared, and shook a little, for in the midst of 
all this splendour I saw Lucyl No pallid, rigid 
ghost, but something warm, eager with life, 
spreading the folds of the lilac gown like a but- 
terfly warming its new wings in the strength of 
the sun. 

Her bosom rose and fell quickly, her eyes were 
fixed on me with a beseeching look, it seemed. I 
drew nearer — ^near enough to smell the faint per- 
fume of her, and I saw then that she was not 
looking at me, but at the fat little book of "The 
Mysteries of Udolpho" which I still held in my 
hands. The book that Charles had given herl 
"Bide the timel" he had written, but she could 
bide the time no longer. 

Proud as any knight before his lady, I strode 
forward, and pressed the book into her hands — 
saw her slender fingers curl around it — heard her 
little gasp of joy. I should not have been at all 
surprised had the door opened and Charles 
walked in. 

As a matter of fact, the door did open and — 
Mrs. Handsomebody walked in. 


She gave a sort of gurgling cry, as though she 
were being strangled. Angel and The Seraph 
faced about to look at her in consternation, their 
hair wild in the wind, and the rising sun making 


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an aureole about them. The four of us stared 
at each other in silence for a space, while the 
attic-room, with its cobwebs reeled — ^the sun rose, 
and sank, like a floundering ship, and Mrs. Hand- 
somebody resembling, in my fancy, a hungry 
spid'er, in curl papers, considered which victim 
was ripest for slaughter. 

"You — and you — and you — " she gobbled. 
"Oh, to think of itl No place safe! What you 
need is a strong man. We shall see ! The very 
windows — ^burat from their bdltsP" She 
slammed the casement and secured it. Angel and 
The Seraph darting from her path. 

"Even a dead woman's clothes — to make a 
scarecrow ofl" She pounced — I hid my face 
while she did it, but I heard a sinister rus- 
tling and the snap of a trunk lid. It was over. 
"Bide the time." 

Ignominiously she herded us down the stairs; 
The Seraph making only one step at a time, led 
the way. Far down the drab vista of the back 
stairs that ended in the scullery, Mary Ellen's 
red, round face was seen for a moment, like a 
second rising sun, but vanished as suddenly as it 
had appeared, at a shout from Mrs. Handsome- 

We were in the schoolroom now, placed before 
her in a row, as was her wont in times of retribu- 
tion. Seated behind her desk she wore her 


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purple dressing gown with magisterial dignity; 
the wart upon her chin quivered as she prepared 
to speak. 

"Now, David," she said, rapping Angel 
smartly on the head, "can you say anything 
in explanation of this outrage upon my property? 
Hold your head up and toe out, please." 

Angel looked at his hands. "Nuffin' to ex- 
plain," he said sulkily. "Just went an' did it." 

"Oh I thought so," said our governess. "It 
was just one of these seemingly irresistible im- 
pulses that have so often proved disastrous for all 
concerned. If your father knew — " she bit off 
the words as though they had a pleasant, if acrid 
taste — "if your poor father knew of your criminal 
proclivities, he would be a crushed man. A 
crushed many 

The Seraph was staring at her chin. 

Then — "I have one too," he said gently. 

"One whatf* Her tone should have warned 
him. "One wart," he went on, with easy 
modesty. "It's just a little one. It can't wig- 
gle — like yours — ^but it's gwowing nicely. 
Would you care to see it?" 

Mrs. Handsomebody affected not to hear him. 
She stared sombrely atj Angel and me, but I be- 
lieve The Seraph sealed our fate, for, after a 
moment's deliberation, she said curtly; "I shall 
have to beat you for this." 


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She gave us six apiece, and I could not help 
noticing that, though The Seraph was the young- 
est and tenderest, his six were the most stinging. 

When we had been sent to our bedroom to 
say our prayers, and change our pitifully in- 
adequate night clothes for day things, I put the 
question that was burning in my mind. 

"Did either of you see her?^^ 


"Lucy, sitting there in the chair." 

Angel's brown eyes were blank. 

"I saw; her clothes. What sickens me is that 
the dragon took that spy-glass. You see if I 
don't get it yet." (Mrs. Handsomebody was 
"the dragon" in our vernacular.) 

"Did you see her. Seraph?" 

The Seraph was sitting on the floor, his head 
on his knees. He raised a tear-flushed face. 

"I'm 'most too cwushed to wemember," he 
said, huskily. "But I fink Lucy was fat. It's 
a vewy bad fing to be fat, 'cos the cane hurts 

I turned from such infantile imbecility to the 
exhilarating reflection that I was the only one to 
whom Lucy had shown herself — her chosen 
knight ! 

I was burning to do her service, yet the passage 
that led to the attic stronghold was well guarded. 
Two days had passed before I made the attempt. 


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I had been sent upstairs from the tea-table to 
wash my hands — though they were only com- 
fortably soiled — and after I had dipped them in 
a basin of water that had done service for both 
Angel and The Seraph, I gave them a good rub 
on my trouser legs, as I tip-toed to the foot of 
the attic stairs. Cautiously, with fast-beating 
heart, I mounted, and tried the door. It was 
locked fast. I pressed my eye against the key- 
hole, and made out in the gloom the dark shape 
of the trunk, sinister, forbidding, inaccessible. 
No rustle of lilac silk, no faintest perfume, no 
appealing sigh from the gentle Lucy greeted me. 
All was dark and quiet. "Bide the time 1" Who 
knew but that some day I might set her free? 

Yfit my throat ached as I slowly made my way 
back to the table, presented my hands for a rather 
sceptical inspection by Mrs. Handsomebody, and 
dropped languidly into my seat. 

The Seraph gave me a look of sympathy — 
even understanding — perhaps he had heard me 
mount the distant attic stairs; his hearing was 
wonderfully acute. He chewed in silence for a 
moment and then he made one of those seemingly 
irrelevant remarks of his that, somehow, always 
set our little world a-rocking. 

"One fing about Lucy," he said, "she was al- 
ways sweet-tempud." 

"Who?" snapped Mrs. Handsomebody. 


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"Lucy — " repeated The Seraph. "Such a 
sweet-tempud gell." 

Mrs. Handsomebody leaned over him, and gob- 
bled and threatened. The Seraph preserved a 
remarkable calm, considering that he was the 
storm centre. He even raised his small fore- 
finger before his face and looked at it thought- 
fully. His speculative gaze travelled from it to 
Mrs. Handsomebody's chin. I perceived then 
that he was comparing warts 1 



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Chapter IV: A Merry 


My brothers and I were hanging over the gate 
that barred our way to the outer world, and sing- 
ing, as loudly as we could, considering the pres- 
sure of the top bar on our young stomachs. Wc 
sang to keep warm, for Mrs. Handsomebody had 
decreed that no reefers were to be worn till the 
first of December. So, though November was 
raw, she maintained her discipline and refused 
to mollycoddle us. 

It was the fifth, and Angel chanted in that 
flute-like treble of his, that made passersby turn 
and smile at him: 

"Remember, remember the fifth of November, „ 
Gunpowder, treason and plot — " 

Then The Seraph added his little pipe : 

"I see no weason why gunpowder tweason 
Should ever be forgot." 

Then we shouted it all together. 
Our neighbour, Mr. Mortimer Pegg, who had 
never forgiven us for our share in the treasure 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

hunt, came out of his house at that moment, and 
drew up before us. 

"This noise, you know," he said, in his precise 
way, "is affecting my wife's health deleteriously. 
She has gone to bed with a migraine." 

"Why don't you put him out," suggested The 

Mr. Pegg eyed him severely, yet I thought I 
perceived a twinkle in his eye. 

"It's Guy Fawkes day," I explained. "You 
see, it must never be forgot." 

"It is a mistake in these enlightened days to 
keep up such old animosities," replied our neigh- 
bour. "For all you know I might be his 
direct descendant. If you must celebrate his un- 
doing, better take these three sixpences and make 
yourselves ill on lemon fizz, or pink marshmal- 
lows, or vile licorice cigars." 

He placed a coin in each outstretched hand, 
and, without waiting for thanks, strode briskly 
down the street. We gazed after him, knocked 
speechless by this great beaker of bounty that 
had rolled in upon the flat expanse of our after- 
noon. Mr. Pegg, in his shiny top hat and neat 
Prince Albert moved away in the ruddy Novem- 
ber sunlight as in a halo of opulence. Never 
before had we appreciated the princely turn of his 
toes beneath their drab spats, the flash of his 
twirled walking-stick. We resolved to keep him 

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A Merry Interlude 

in mind. He was a neighbour worth having. 
Angel even suggested certain time-honoured dit- 
ties of boyhood, which, shouted in chorus, would 
be almost certain to have a disastrous eifect on 
a female addicted to migraine. 

A deputation, consisting of The Seraph, then 
waited on Mrs. Handsomebody, to explain that 
our neighbour, Mr. Pegg, having been charmed 
by our singing, had presented us each with a 
sixpence, with the earnest injunction that the coin 
be expended on currant buns at the grocer's. The 
Seraph came back triumphant with the necessary 

"We can go," he said, "but we're not to take 
a bite till we're back home. It's suppwising 
she'd let us do it." 

"Not a bit," said Angel cynically, "she knows 
they'll spoil oui^ appetite for tea." 

The grocer was a fierce, red-bearded man who 
kept his wife in a little wooden stall, where she 
took in the constant flow of wealth extorted from 
his customers. 

We had told The Seraph that she was thus 
confined by her gloomy spouse, in order that she 
might be fattened for slaughter, and his eyes 
were large with pity as he stood on tiptoe to hand 
our three sixpences through the little wicket. 
The grocer's wife leaned forward to look at him, 
her plump underlip, after two futile attempts to 

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Explorers of the Dawn 

form a chin, subsiding into a large white neck. 

The Seraph's look of pity deepened to horror. 
"You must be almost weady," he gasped. 

"Ready? Ready for what, my little love?" 

"Stickin' — oo, will it hurt vewy much?" 

"Blessi the child. What does he mean?" 

"He's not very well," I explained. "I think 
he's delirious." 

"That's why we brought him here to get a 
cool drink," added Angel, hurriedly, and between 
us we led the recreant to the little table in the 
rear of the shop where the grocer had set out 
three glasses of ginger beer and a plate of mixed 
cakes. Five minutes of unalloyed bliss followed 
and we were just draining off the last dregs and 
cleaning up the crumbs, when a bullet-headed boy 
stuck his head in at the door. 

"Dorg's 'ere again," he said, laconically. 
"Nosin' abaht in the gabbage 'eap." 

"Tie a can on 'is tile," said the grocer. 

The boy disappeared, and the three of us 
pushed back our chairs and followed in his wake, 
scenting adventure in the littered yard behind 
the shop with its strange odours of bygone fruit 
and greens. 

The dog, a small, black, Scottish terrier, was 

dragging an end of Boulogna sausage from the 

garbage heap. The bullet-headed boy winked 

at us, selected an empty can from the heap, pro- 


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A Merry Interlude 

duced a piece of string from his pocket, and 
grasped the terrier by the collar. But only for 
a moment. With a rush of concentrated fury 
it flew at his legs, gave him a sharp snap, and 
darted back to its sausage, with a warning glean 
of its eyes in our direction. 

"Ow," yelled the boy, doubling up, " 'e's bit 
me sumpfin' cruel ! You see if I daon't brain 'im 
for that!" 

He snatched up an axe and brandished it. 
The terrier dropped its sausage and showed its 
little pointed teeth. 

We three, with one impulse, flung ourselves 
between it and the boy. 

"You dare touch that dog," shouted Angel. 

"Oo's goin' to stop me. Mister Nosey Par- 
ker?" sneered the boy, with a flourish of his axe. 

"I am," said Angel, " 'cos it's wy dog, see?" 
He coolly turned his back on the boy and bent 
over the terrier, who came to him cautiously, 
snifling his legs. 

"Your dorg!" scoffed the boy, ^*w'y daon't yer 
feed 'im then? 'E's arf starved, 'e is. Yer 
ought to be 'ad up fer perwention of cruelty to 
hanimals. It's a disgrice." 

"We've only owned him a little while," ex- 
plained Angel, "and he strayed away. He'll be 
jolly glad to get home again — ^won't you, Rover? 
Give us that bit of string and I'll lead him." 

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The boy, suddenly friendly, in one of those 
swiftly changing moods of boyhood, assisted in 
the tying of the string to the little dog's collar, 
though he cast a longing look at its stout fringed 
tail that was so admirably built to further the 
riotous bouncings of an empty tin can. 

We led him triumphantly through the shop 
into the street, and we trotted in silence for a 
space, staring in rapt admiration of the little 
black paws that padded along in such a business- 
like fashion beside us, the knowingly-pointed 
ears, and valiant tail carried at a jaunty angle 
above the sturdy hind-quarters. 

When we reached our own quiet street we 
stopped. The Seraph looked in the bag of buns. 

"May I give him mine?" he asked. 

"Good boy," said Angel, and The Seraph pre- 
sented the little dog with the large currant bun. 
We were charmed indeed when he sat up for it 
in the most approved trained-animal posture, with 
short fore-legs crossed on his plump hairy breast. 
How often had we longed for the joyous com- 
panionship of our old four-footed friends, the 
comfort of a soft warm tongue on one's cheek, 
the sensitive muzzle pressed into one's palm, the 
look of loving confidence in the deep brown eyes. 

But our governess hated dogs, and we were 
expressly forbidden to so much as pat the head 
of any^stray canine that thrust an inquiring nose 

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A Merry Interlude 

between the bars of her gate. Therefore, it was 
with sad foreboding that we watched the bun 
disappear. The Scotty held it between his fore- 
paws and bit off decent mouthfuls, without sign 
of greed or haste. By his bearing and by his 
shining silver collar we knew that he was, or had 
been some one's cherished pet. 

The bun had cheered him wonderfully, for, 
as we moved homeward, he leaped playfully at 
his leash, and catching it in his teeth, worried it 
in an abandon of glee. 

We made no plans. We had no hopes. We 
merely were drawn by habit and necessity to the 
place where, we knew, desperate trouble awaited 
us. At the gate we halted. 

"We might take him into the yard to play for 
a little while," I said. "P'raps we could carry 
him upstairs wrapped in my coat, and hide him 
under the bed. Maybe he'd get so awful good 
he'd live under the bed, and we could save our 
food for him, and get up nights to play wfth him." 

As if to show his appredation of the plan, the 
Scotty raised himself on his hind quarters, pad- 
dling the air with his forepaws in excited appeal, 
and giving vent to sharp, staccato barks. 

The next instant the front door was thrown 
open, and Mary Ellen, her cap askew, dashed 
down the steps to meet us. 

"Wheriver have ye been so long?" she 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

ejaculated. **An' have ye been tould the news? 
'Tis hersilf has taken a tumble, an' put her knee 
out so the doctor says. I'd jist been danin' up 
the panthry shelves, an' she got up on a chair to 
see whether I'd maybe missed the top one, an' 
I must have left a knob of soap on the chair, 
for the next thing I knew she was stretched on 
the flure, an' I had to fetch the doctor, an' he 
says she'll have to kape to her room for a fort- 
night or more, an' the lord only knows how I'm 
to wait on her an' manage the three av ye, wid 
yer pranks an' all 1" 

The Seraph turned a somersault; then I turned 
a somersault; then Angel turned two; then the 
Scotty sat up, paddled the air with his forepaws, 
and sneezed twice. 

Mary Ellen was genuinely shocked. 

"I do belave," she said, solemnly, "that you've 
stones in your breasts instid av hearts — ^but 
you're jist like all men folk — if they think there's 
a good time in sthore for them, the women can 
suffer all they like, more shame to them." She 
was so worked up that she did not notice that the 
little dog had followed us into the house, until 
he was sitting up in the kitchen, his forepaws 
paddling the air, his tail thudding on the floor. 
Then she said, brimming over with admiration, 
though she tried to look severe; 

"And if you think I'll have sthray dawgs in 

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A Merry Interlude 

my kitchen you're very much mistook . . . 
Aw, it's a darlin' wee thing, isn't it?" For the 
Scotty, seeing that she had seated herself, had 
jumped to her lap and now sat there, nose in 
air, looking superbly at home. 

We closed about her, telling, in chorus, the 
story of the bullet-headed boy, and the garbage 
heap, and enlarging dramatically on the episode 
of the tin can. 

"And may we please keep him?" we entreated, 
"just for a few days till we find the owner of 
it! Mrs. Handsomebody will never know, for 
he can live in the coal cellar 'cept when we take 
him little walks on a string I" 

"If you don't let me do this I'll never marry 
you, so there !" This from Angel. 

"Have it your own way, thin," moaned Mary 
Ellen, capitulating, as usual, under the fire of 
Angel's pleading, "but moind, if she iver finds us 
out, it's mesilf will be walkin' the streets widout 
a character." 


So began a merry interlude in the drabness of 
the Handsomebody regime. Mrs. Handsome- 
body kept to her room for nearly three weeks, un- 
able to put her foot to the floor. On the first 
evening, she called us to her bedside ; and, while 
we stood in a row, bewildered before the phenom- 


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enon of seeing her prostrate, she ledtured us 
solemnly on the duties and responsibilities of our 
position, and implored us not to make the period 
of her enforced retirement a nightmare, because 
of our pranks. We promised, marvelling that 
bedclothes could be kept so itidy, and fervently 
wishing she would display the knee that had been 
so severely "put out." It was a commonplace 
for Mrs. Handsomebody's temper to be thus 
afilicted, but her knee, never. 

When we returned to the kitchen, we found 
Mary Ellen sitting in a pensive attitude. Her 
forefinger pressed against her knit brow, her 
stout ankles crossed. 

"The little dawg has been tellin' me a secret," 
she volunteered in explanation, "a deep, dark se- 
cret. She's been tellin' me in a way of spakin' 
that she's a lady-dawg, God help her." 

"But how did she tell you, Mary Ellen? Did 
she speak out loud?" We were breathless with 

"She did not. I ast her, for I had me sus- 
picion, if she was a lady-dawg an' I sez — 'If yez 
are wag yer tail three times,' an' the words was 
scarce off me tongue, whin she wagged her tail 
three times." 

It was a marvel. Oh, these were going to be 
great days 1 

"If you're a lady-dog, wag your tail three 


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A Merry Interlude 

times," I ordered, squatting to peer into the 
sagacious brown eyes. 

Three times the stocky tail thumped the floor. 

Then Angel put the question, and was answered 
with equal promptitude. 

It was The Seraph's turn. With an insinuat- 
ing smile he said: ''If you are a gennelman dog 
wag your tail fwee times." 

But before there was time for so much as one 
wag, Mary Ellen caught the too-eager tail in a 
restraining grasp. 

"Now have done wid your nonsinse," she com- 
manded. "Ye'U have the pore crature that wor- 
ried it'll set up barkin', an' if the misthress did 
know, there he's a dawg in the house, she'd likely 
just throw a fit an' die." 

"Is it a vewy barkable d6g?" queried The 

"All dogs is barkable," said Mary Ellen, "and 
what we'll have to do is to kape her as quate as 
possible and pray that her owner'U come along 
this way^ for turn her out I will not. It's easy 
seein' she's a pet be the ways of her." 

"It says Kjiftie' on her collar," Angel an- 
nounced, separating the short, shaggy coat to 
read. "That must be her name. Hello, Giftie ! 
Sit up, Giftie!" 

So Giftie she was, and, for a long three weeks, 
our joy and our delight. 


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Was ever little body so full of spirit and the 
pride of life? The kitchen became her own 
domain where the thred of us fought for the 
position of her most abject slave. Even Mary 
Ellen could scarcely work for watching her antics 
with an old stocking, which she pretended was a 
rat. Once she caught a live mouse and set us 
all shouting. Mary Ellen, in her excitement, up- 
set a gravy-boat of hot gravy, and The Seraph 
slipped and sat down in it, and Giftie gambolling, 
mouse in mouth, ran through it and tracked it 
over the freshly scrubbed boards. If she had 
been a tigress with her prey she could not have 
been more ferocious with the mouse. She 
snarled at it: she worried it: she threw it up in 
the air and caught it: she laid it on the scullery 
floor and rolled on it: and when, finally, it ceased 
to squirm beneath her, she lay quite still, gazing 
pensively up at us with liquid eyes, and only now 
and then twitching her hind-quarters to remind 
her victim that she was still on the job. 

One never-to-be-forgotten day she rollicked 
into the kitchen proudly carrying Mrs. Hand- 
somebody's solemn black shoe, which had been 
standing with its mate beneath Mrs. Handsome- 
body's bed. Before our horrified eyes, she wor- 
ried it till the shoe-laces cracked about her head ; 
threw it up and caught it, as she had the mouse ; 

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A Merry Interlude 

then taking it to her own bed in the scullery, she 
laid it there and rolled on it. 

When Mary Ellen had wrested the shoe from 
Giftie, she crept upstairs, her heart in her mouth, 
and restored it to its place beneath the bed. 

"It was a marvel," she said afterwards, "how 
the scallywag did what she did widout wakenin' 
her^ for there was the mistress sleepin' on the 
broad of her back, and her two shoes, and her 
bed-socks scattered over the flure, and the pot 
of cold crame knocked off the chair at thei head 
of her bed, and the half of it et. It's mesilf 
will dance for joy whin that little tormint gets 
took away." 

Inquiries were made of all the errand boys, 
but not one had heard of a lost dog. We came 
to dread the sound of the door-bell lest it should 
herald some determined grown-up come to snatch 
our treasure from us. Mr. Watlin, the butcher's 
young man, and Mary Ellen's favoured "fol- 
lower" of the moment, took a lively interest in 
the affair. He was of the opinion that if Mrs. 
Handsomebody once saw the dog nothing would 
induce her to send it away. And he brought 
offerings of raw meat in his pocket to make her 
plump and g'lossy. Giftie grew plumper and 
glossier every day. 

Then, when two weeks had passed, she 


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achieved the crowning triumph of her stay with 
us. It was a heavy morning of dense November 
fog, and the gas was still burning in the dining- 
room when we came down to breakfast. Mary 
Ellen did not bring us our porridge, as usual, 
neither did Giftie run in to greet us; so, after a 
moment's impatient wriggling in our chairs, we 
went to the kitchen to investigate. Giftie was 
nowhere in sight. Mary Ellen sat in an attitude 
of complete abandon, by the dresser, her apron 
over her head, her arms hanging loosely at her 
sides. Was Giftie dead? Had her owner come 
to fetch her? What horror had overcast the 
sun? We deluged her with questions, pulling 
the apron off her head, and dragging her from 
the chair. 

**Och, it's a terror she is," Mary Ellen said, at 
last. "Come wid me to the scullery an' ye'U see 
what she's got in the bed wid her." 

There was not much light in the scullery so 
we could not at first distinguish what lay on the 
mat beside Giftie. It moved; it snuffled; no — 
they moved; they snuffled. There were three of 
them. All at once it burst upon us that they were 
puppies — her puppies— our puppies — one apiece 1 
We flopped on the floor beside her. She darted 
from her bed — licked our hands — snapped at our 
ankles — ran back to them — and, finally tremulous 
with excitement, allowed us to take them in our 

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A Merry Interlude 

arms (The Seraph wrapped his in the skirt of 
his fresh holland smock) and sit blissfully in 
a row. 

We stroked the soft licked fur of their glossy 
coats; we examined their tiny sharp black nails; 
their blindness only endeared them the more to 

There we were found by Mr. Watlin. 

" 'Ere's a picnic," he said. " 'Ere's a bloomin' 
picnic." He caught up the nearest puppy, and 
turned it over in an experienced hand. "Tiles 
must be cut," he added. 

"Tails cut! Oh, no," I expostulated, "Giftie's 
tail isn't cut. Please don't." 

"All terriers should 'ave their tiles cut," said 
Mr. Watlin, firmly. "If the mother dog's tile 
isn't cut, is that any reason w'y 'er hoffspring 
should be disfigured in a like manner? Now's 
the time." 

"But it'll hurt," pleaded The Seraph. Do 
you do it wif a knife ?" 

"I bit^s 'em orf," replied Mr. Watlin, laconi- 
cally, "an' it don't 'urt a bit." 

"In this world," he went on, "a lot depends on 
the way you does a thing. F'rinstance, when I 
kill a lamb or a steer, do I kill 'im brutally? Not 
at all. I runs 'im up an' down the slaughter yard 
to get 'is circulation up — I strokes 'im on the neck, 
an' tells 'im wot a fine feller 'e is, till 'e's in such 


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good spirits that 'e tikes the killin' as a joke. 
Just a part of the ^me, as it were. Sime with 
these 'ere pups. They'd like 'aving their tiles bit 
orf by me." 

We looked at the puppies doubtfully. It was 
hard to believe that they would really like it, and 
we were relieved when Mary Ellen broke in — 

"They will not be cut, nor bit, nor interfered 
wid in anny way. If Gif tie's owner likes a long 
tail on her, he'd want a long tail on her puppies 
Wouldn't he? That stands to reason, Mr. 
Watlin, don't it? and the owner may walk in here 
anny day." 

How we hated that nebulous owner 1 And now 
another cloud loomed on our horizon. Mrs. 
Handsomebody was getting better. She had sat 
up on a chair by the bedside; she had, with Mary 
Ellen's help, walked across the room; she had, all 
alone, walked down the hallway; she had come to 
the head of the stairs. She was like the man in 
the ghost story, who, fresh from his grave, called 
to his wife — snugly sleeping above — "Mary, I'm 
at the foot of the stairs. . . . Mary, I'm half way 
up." We, too, shuddered in anticipation. And 
Mary Ellen was almost as nervous as we, for hers 
was the responsibility. 

The puppies were more entrancing every day. 
Tiny slips of dewy blue showed between their 
furry eyelids. They learned to walk, and roll 


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A Merry Interlude 

over, and to right themselves after being turned 
over by their mother's playful paws. We were 
squatting on the floor very busy with them, when 
Mary Ellen entered, round-eyed with fear. 

" 'Tis herself is in the dining-room," she 

"Not Mrs. Handsomebody?" 

"Sorra a thing else. Put them pups in their 
basket and come out and shut the dure. Ye'd 
better go into the yard and be at some quate game. 
Oh, Lord — " and she hurried back to her 

This time we were safe, but there was to- 
morrow ahead, with certain discovery. 

Mr. Watlin, propped in the open doorway, 
brought his ingenious mind to bear upon the 

"Now if Mrs. 'Andsomebody could be put un- 
der an obligation to that little dog, she'd probably 
tike it right into 'er 'eart and 'ome. If that little 
dog, f'rinstance, should save Mrs. 'Andsomebody 
from drowning — does she ever go in bathing?" 

"Likely, at her age, in December/'^ sneered 
Mary Ellen. "Try again." 

"We might hold her under water in the bath- 
tub till Giftie would fish her out," suggested 

It was a colourful spectacle to visualize, and we 
dallied with it a space before abandoning it as im- 


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practicable. It seemed too much to hope that 
Mrs. Handsomebody, the bath-tub and Giftie 
could all be assembled at the critical moment. 

But Mr. Watlin was not to be rebuffed. "Then 
there's burglars," he went on. "Suppose Mrs. 
'Andsomebody's valuables was to be rescued from 
a burglar for 'er. She wouldn't be able to do 
enough for a little dog that 'ad chased 'im out of 
this very scullery, f'rinstance." 

We were thrilled by hope. "But where is the 

"Well, I could produce the burglar in a pinch. 
He's reformed but he'd undertake a little job like 
this if he know'd it was for partic'lar friends of 
mine, and not a bit of 'arm in it. Is it a go?" 

Mystery brooded over the house of Handsome- 
body all that afternoon and evening. We were 
allowed to have no finger in this portentous pie. 

Mr. Watlin, with some small assistance from 
Mary Ellen, engineered the thing himself. We 
were sent to bed at the usual hour, and played at 
burglars on, and under, the bed, to while away 
the intervening hours. 


It must have been almost midnight when our 

hearts were made to beat in our throats by such 

an uproar in the scullery, as seemed to cleave the 

darkness like a thunderbolt. Giftie appeared to 


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be choking in her effort to unloose, all at once, a 
torrent of ferocious barks. A window shook, 
glass broke, a shutter slammed. Then followed a 
moment of awful silence before she settled down 
to a methodical yapping. We heard Mary Ellen 
run down the back stairs. 

We clambered out of bed, and tumbled into the 
hall. Mrs. Handsomebody was there before us, 
a gigantic shadow of her thrown on the walls by 
a candle she held unsteadily in her hand. 

"Merciful Heaven !" she was saying under her 
breath. "What can have happened 1" She mo- 
tioned us to fall in behind her, and it was plain 
that, crippled as she was, she intended to inter- 
pose her body, in its flannel nightgown, between 
us and whatever danger lurked below. She made 
the descent clinging to the bannister, the three 
of us jostling each other in the rear, and, once, 
nearly precipitated on her back by a caper of 
AngePs on the edge of a step. 

Mary Ellen met us in the dining-room, her face 
pale with excitement. 

"It was a burglar in the scullery, ma'am," she 
burst out, never looking at us. "It's a mercy we 
wasn't all murthered in our beds this night — the 
windy's broke, an' the shutter's pried loose, and 
a bag full av all the things off the sideboard is 
settin' on the flure. Sure, I. heard the steps av 
him runnin' full lick down the lane — " 


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Mrs. Handsomebody looked at her bereft side- 
board, and dropped into a chair with a gasp. 

"Are you sure he's gone?" 

"Yes'm. I stuck me head out the windy and 
seen him." 

"You're a brave girl. Get me the bitte(rs. 
Yes, and lock the door into the scullery — stay, 
what dog was it that barked?" 

Mary Ellen hung her head. "The dawg the 
little boys have been keepin' this bit while. It 
does no harm at all." 

Mrs. Handsomebody's face was a mask. She 
said composedly: "Well, get the bitters a^id 
tihen bring in the dog." 

Mary Ellen did as she was bid. 

Enter now Giftie, tail up, ears pricked, the 
picture of conscious well-doing. She went 
straight to Mrs. Handsomebody, sniffed her 
ankles; wagged her tail in appreciation of the 
odour of the liniment that emanated from the in- 
jured lady; and finally sat up before her with an 
ingratiating paddling of the forepaws. 

Mrs. Handsomebody regarded her sombrely. 
"May I ask how long you have harboured this 

"Just since the day ye fell, ma'am, and I was 
that upset that I was scarce in me right moind, 
and indade, it's hersilf has saved us from robbery 
and mebbe murther this night wid her barkin'. " 


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A Merry Interlude 

Giftie, tired of sitting up without reward or 
encouragement, had trotted quietly out of the 
room. She now came back waddling with im- 
portance, a pup in her mouth. She laid it 
at the feet of our governess as though to say; — 
"There now, what do you make of that?" 

"Horrors!" cried Mrs. Handsomebody, draw- 
ing back, as though the puppy were a serpent. 

With a joyful kick of the heels, Giftie was off 
again. In breathless silence we waited. The 
second puppy, sleepy and squirming, was laid be- 
side its brother.. 

"I presume you have another?" said Mrs. 
Handsomebody in a controlled voice but grip- 
ping the arms of her chair. 

Giftie brought the other. 

"Oh, Mrs. Handsomebody!" I implored, 
"please, please, let us keep them! They're as 
good as gold, and they'd guard the house and 
everything — and maybe save you from drowning 
some time. Don't take them from us, pl-ease!" 
The Seraph, in sympathy, began to cry. Angel 
picked up his pup and held it against his breast. 

"Silence!" rapped out Mrs. Handsomebody. 
"Mary Ellen, fetch The Times. And just look 
in the scullery to see that all is quiet there. 
Fetch the bag left by the robber." 

Mrs. Handsomebody sipped her bitters while 
Mary Ellen did her behests. Each of us cud- 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

died his own puppy, and Giftie began an energetic 
search for a flea. 

Had our hearts not been in the grip of ap- 
prehension we should have laughed at the figure 
cut by Mary Ellen, panting under the sack of 
plate. Mr. Watlin's burglar had done his job 
well, and Mrs. Handsomebody groaned when she 
saw her most cherished possessions tumbled in 
such a reckless fashion. But not a thing was 
missing, and when they had been replaced on the 
sideboard, she turned briskly to The Times. She 
ran a long white finger down the Lost column. 

"Ah, here we are — " she announced, compla- 
cently — "Pay attention, boys," and she read: 

'^Reward for information leading to the recovery of 
Scottish terrier, female, wearing silver collar engraved, 
Giftie, stolen or strayed from 5 Argylc Road, on Novem- 
ber third. Any one detaining after this notice will be 

"You see," exclaimed Mrs. Handsomebody, 
triumphantly, "you have made yourselves liable 
to a heavy fine, or even imprisonment, by detain- 
ing what is, I presume, a very valuable beast. 
Argyle Road — a very good locality — is not too 
great a distance for you to walk. In the morn- 
ing, we shall return that dog and her — er — 
young, and I see nothing amiss in your accepting 
a suitable reward. Not a word now! No in- 
subordination, mind. I won't have it. David, 

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A Merry Interlude 

John, Alexander, listen — I am in no mood to 
be trifled with. Put down those squirming 
creatures and march to your bed!" 

Giftie's hour had struck. It was no use re- 
belling. With bitter composure, we carried our 
beloved to the scullery, and laid them on the mat 
beside their mother. It was not until we were 
safe in bed that our pent up fury broke loose; 
and we pounded the pillows, and cursed the name 
of womankind. 

Women! Tyrants! Mischievous busybod- 

"When I'm a man," said Angel, suddenly, "I'll 
marry a woman, and I'll beat her every day." 

"Me too!" cried The Seraph, stoutly, "I'll 
mawy two — ^^fat ones — an' beat 'em bofe." 

For myself, I was inclined for an unhampered 
bachelorhood, but it soothed my wounded spirit 
to picture these three hapless females in the grip 
of Angel and The Seraph, and the music of their 
outcries lulled me fast asleep. 


We found next morning that Mrs. Handsome- 
body and Mary Ellen had never gone back to 
bed all night, but had kept watch in the dining- 
room till daylight, when Mary Ellen had been 
dispatched to find a policeman. He was in the 

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Explorers of the Dawn 

kitchen now, a commanding figure, making notes 
in a little book; and seeming to derive great bene- 
fit from his conversation with Mary Ellen. 

A new arrival was a wheeled-chair to convey 
Mrs. Handsomebody to 5 Argyle Road. There- 
fore, about ten o'clock, after the most exhausting 
preparations, we set out, a singular party; Mrs. 
Handsomebody enthroned in the chair, mistress 
of herself (and every one else) her black-gloved 
hands crossed on her lap; Mary Ellen, hot, strain- 
ing over the wheeled-chair, lest her mistress get an 
unseemly bump at the crossing; Angel and I, bear- 
ing between us a covered hamper containing the 
three pups; while Giftie and The Seraph in the 
abandon of youth and ignorance, sported on the 
outskirts of the group. 

The way was long, and our arms ached with 
the weight of the hamper, when we stopped be- 
fore the gate of Number 5 Argyle Road. It 
was an imposing house in its own grounds; large 
clipped trees stood about; and a bent old gardener 
was doing something to one of those, while a tall 
grey-haired woman in mannish tweeds superin- 
tended the work. A Scottish terrier, fit mate 
for Giftie, was digging furiously at the root of 
the tree. He discovered our presence first, and, 
before we had time to introduce ourselves, he 
and Giftie, with bristling backs, were jumping 
about one another in a sort of friendly hostility, 

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A Merry Interlude 

and filling the air with barks of greeting. Giftie, 
then, darted for the hamper, sniffed it, ran back 
to the other Scotty, and bit him so that he yelped. 
All was confusion. 

The tall lady came toward us smiling broadly. 
She exclaimed above the din : "How can I thank 
you? I see you have brought home our little 
wanderer — Giftie, how can you treat Colin so? 
Poor Colin — ^lift him up, Giles, she's going to 
bitcJ him again — I suppose there are pups in the 
hamper. Let's see, boys." 

We uncovered the hamper proudly. The 
three puppies lay curled like little sea anemones. 
Giftie tried to get in the hamper with them, but 
her mistress restrained her gently, while she 
lifted them out, one by one, and examined each, 
critically, Mrs. Handsomebody watching her all 
the while with an expression of disapproval, that 
bordered on disgust. 

The tall lady, quite oblivious to all this, seated 
herself on the ground with the puppies on her 
lap, muttering ecstatically — "Perfect beauties — 
what luck! Giftie, you're a wonder!" Where- 
upon Giftie tried to kiss her on the ear. The 
bent old gardener, brought Colin to us and made 
him shake hands, and we thought him very long- 
faced and dour after roguish Giftie. 

Presently Mrs. Handsomebody spoke in her 
most decisive tones: 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

"I fear I shall take a chill if I remain in this 
damp place. Come boys. Mary Ellen, kindly 
reverse the chair !" 

The tall lady rose to her feet. 

''Oh, please, come in and have something hot, 
and tell me all about it. And there's the re- 

"I thank you," replied Mrs. Handsomebody, 
"I shall not venture to leave my chair. As for 
the dog, it came to us several weeks ago, when 
I was ill; hence the delay in returning it — and 
its young." 

"Your grandchildren?" questioned the tall 
lady abruptly. 

"My pupils, and, for the present, my wards," 
replied Mrs. Handsomebody frigidly. 

"Wish I could steal them," said the lady. "If 
Fd dogs and boys too, I'd be happy. These are 
darlings." She turned to us then. "Boys, do 
you like Giftie very much?" 

"Oh, we love her," we chorused. 

"Would you like one of her puppies for your 
very own to keep?" 

Would we? We couldn't speak for longing. 

Mrs. Handsomebody spoke for us. 

"I allow no pets, canine or otherwise." 

The tall lady scowled. "But these are valu- 
able dogs." 

"All dogs are alike to me. Canines." 


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A Merry Interlude 

The tall lady gave something between a snort 
and a sigh. 

"Would you allow them to accept a sovereign 
apiece then?" 

"That would be permissible." 

"I shall be back directly," and with astonish- 
ing speed she ran to the house with Colin and 
Giftie barking on either side of her. It was but 
a moment till she returned and pressed a golden 
sovereign into each languid hand. The sight of 
so much bullion all at once braced us for the 
moment, and we forgot to be miserable. She 
came with us to the gate, asking a dozen questions 
about ourselves, and our father, and Giftie's 
stay with us. Giftie had to be restrained from 
following us, and with sinking hearts we kissed 
her little black nose and said good-bye. 

"Good-bye !" called the tall lady, "come again 
any time ! Come and spend the day with us I" 

Our governess called us peremptorily. She 
was half a block in advance. 

When we reached the chair, she said, in a con- 
ciliatory tone : "I shall arrange for you to have 
some unusual treat from your reward, some con- 
certs and lantefn lectures suited to your years, 
and maybe, as the Christmas Season approaches, 
even a pantomime. What do you say7" 

I looked at the woman. Was she mad to 
imagine that such paltry, sickly treats could make 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

up for the loss of three pups whose eyes were 
beginning to open ? My own eyes smarted with 
tears. I looked at Mary Ellen. Two bright 
drops hung on her checks as she laboured behind 
the chair. I looked at Angel. He was balanc- 
ing himself on the curb with an air of desperate 
indifference. I could hear The Seraph weeping 
as he brought up the rear. 

I lingered behind to offer him a suck of a piece 
of licorice I had. Then I saw that he had 
stopped and was hunched above the grating of a 
sewer. I could but think that his spirits had 
reached such an ebb that nothing save the con- 
templation of the foulest depths might salve his 
misery. But I was mistaken ! His hand moved 
above the grating. Something flashed. Then I 
swelled my chest with pride in him. Truly, The 
Seraph was a brother to be proud of — a fellow 
of sturdy passions, not to be trifled with ! 

He had chucked his sovereign down the sewer ! 



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Chapter V: Freedom 

Life became dull indeed after Giftie was taken 
from us. November drew on to December; 
beating rains kept us indoors for days at a time. 
Mrs. Handsomebody had a horror of wet feet. 
With faces pressed against streaming window 
panes, we watched for the blurred progress of 
the lamp-lighter down the street, as the one ex- 
citement of the day. Even our friend the Bishop 
deserted us and went for a long stay in the south 
of France. Angel developed a sore throat just 
before Christmas so we had no part in the Christ- 
mas music in the Cathedral. The toy pistols 
sent by our father did not arrive till a fort- 
night after Christmas, and when they did, ar- 
rive, the joy of possessing them was short- 
lived, for after Angel had cracked a pane of 
glass with his, and I had hit Mary Ellen on 
the ear, so that it was swollen and red for days, 
Mrs. Handsomebody confiscated them all as 
dangerous weapons to be kept till we were be- 
yond her control. 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

She gave us each a new prayer book illustrated 
by pictures from the Gospel. I coloured the 
pictures in mine with crayons, and got my hands 
rulered for it; Angel traded his with one of the 
choir boys for a catapult which he successfully 
kept in concealment, with occasional forays on 
back alley cats. The Seraph was immensely 
pleased with his. He carried it about in his 
blouse, producing it, now and again, for ref- 
erence, with pretended solenmity. His manner 
became unbearably clerical. I think he felt him- 
self, at least, a Canon. 

The winter wore on, and we became pale and 
peevish from lack of air, when all our little world 
was quickened by the coming of the telegram. 

•It had come while we were at lessons. Angel 
and I were standing before our governess with 
our hands behind our backs, when Mary Ellen 
burst in at the door. I had been stumbling over 
the names of the Channel Islands, and I stopped 
with my mouth open, relieved to see Mrs. Hand- 
somebody's look of indignation raised from my 
face to that of Mary Ellen. 

"Is that the way I have instructed you to 
enter the room where I sit?" asked Mrs. Hand- 
somebody sternly. 

"Lord, no, ma'am," gasped Mary Ellen, "but 
it's a telegram I've brung for ye, an' I thought 
as it was likely bad news, ye wouldn't want to be 


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i I ■ ■■ 

kept waitin' while I'd rap at the dure!" She 
presented the bit of paper between a wet thumb 
and forefinger. 

"You may take your seats," said Mrs. Hand- 
somebody coldly, to us. 

Angel and I slipped into our places at the 
long book-littered table, on either side of The 
Seraph. We were thus placed, in order that 
his small plump person should prove an obstacle 
to familiar intercourse between Angel and myself 
during school hours; and, as our intercourse 
usually took the form of punches in the short 
ribs, or wet paper pellets aimed at an unoffend- 
ing nose. The Seraph was frequently the recipient 
of such pleasantries. He bore them with good 
humour and stoicism. 

"FU bet anything," whispered Angel, over The 
Seraph's curls, " that it's a telegram from father 
saying that he's coming to fetch usl Wouldn't 
that be jolly? And she's waxy about it too — 
see how white she's gone !" 

Mrs. Handsomebody rose. 

"Boys," she said, in her most frigid manner, 
"owing to news of a sudden bereavement, I shall 
not be able to continue your lessons today — nor 
tomorrow. You will, I hope, make the most 
of the time intervening. You were in a shock- 
ing state of unprepa redness both in History and 
Geography this morning. Keep your little 

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Explorers of the Dawn 

brother out of mischief, and remember^^^ raising 
her long forefinger, "you are not, under any con- 
sideration, to leave the premises during my ab- 
sence. As r have a great responsibility on your 
account, I wish to be certain that you are not en- 
dangering yourselves in the street. When I re- 
turn we shall undertake some long walks." 

Picking up' the telegram from the floor where 
it had fallen, Mrs. Handsomebody slowly left 
the room, and closed the door behind her. 

"She's always jawing about her responsibility,*' 
muttered Angel resentfully. "Why don't she let 
us run about like other boys 'stead of mewing us 
up like a parcel of girls ? I'll be shot if I stand it 1" 

"What are the Channel Islands anyhow?" I 
asked to change the subject. "I'd just got to 
Jersey, Guernsey, when I got stuck." 

"Jersey, Guernsey, Sweater, Sock and Darn," 
replied my elder, emphasizing the last named. 

^^Was the telegram from father?" interrupted 
The Seraph. "Is he comin' home?" 

"No, silly," replied Angel. "Some one belong- 
ing to Mrs. Handsomebody is dead. She's goin' 
to the funeral, I s'pose. Whoever can it be, 
John? Didn't know she had any people." 

"A whole day away," I mused, "it has never 
happened before." 

I looked at Angel, and Angel looked at me — 
such looks as might be exchanged by lion cubs in 

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captivity. We remembered our old home with 
its stretch of green lawn, the dogs, the stable 
with the sharp sweet smell of hay, and the 
pigeons, sliding and "rooketty-cooing" on the 
roof. Here, the windows of our schoolroom 
looked out on a planked back yard, and our 
daily walks with Mrs. Handsomebody were 
dreary outings indeed. 

Of a sudden Angel threw his Geography into 
the air. His brown eyes were sparkling. 

"We'll make a day of it. Lieutenant," he cried, 
slapping me on the shoulder. He always called 
me Lieutenant where mischief was a-foot. "Such 
a day as never was! We'll do every blessed 
thing we're s'posed not tol Most of all — ^we'U 
run the streets/^' 

At that instant, Mary Ellen opened the door 
and put her rosy face in. 

"She do be packin' her bag, byes," she 
whispered, "she's takin' the eliven o'clock train, 
an' she won't be back till tomorrow at noon. 
Nlow what d'ye think o' that? She's awful 
quate, but she's niver spilt a tear fer him that I 
could spot." 

"For who?" 

"Why, her brother to be sure. It's him that's 
dead. It's a attack of brownkitis that's carried 
him: off so suddint. Her only brother an' — ^yes, 
ma'a'm, I'm comin'," her broad face disappeared, 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

"I was on'y tellin' the young gintlemen to be 
nice an' quate while I pt their dinner ready. 
Will they be havin' the cold mutten from yister- 
day ma'a'm?" Her voice trailed down the 

Presently we heard the front door close. We 
raced to the top of the stairs. 

"Is she gone?" we whispered, peering over 
the bannister into the hall below. But, of course, 
she was gone, else Mary Ellen would never dare 
to stand thus in the open doorway, gaping up 
and down the street 1 We slid recklessly down 
the hand-rail. It was the first infringement of 
rules — the wig was on the green 1 We crowded 
about Mary Ellen in the doorway, sniffing the 

"Och, it's a bad lot ye are 1" said she, taking 
The Seraph under the arms and swinging him out 
over the steps, "shure it's small wonder the missus 
is strict wid ye, else ye'd be ridin' rough-shod over 
her as ye do over me I It's jist man-nature, mind 
ye — ^ye can't help it 1" 

"Well, it's not man-nature to be mewed up as 
she does us," said Angel, swaggering, "and, I 
don't know what you mean to do, Mary Ellen, 
but we mean to take a day off, so there I" He 
nodded his curly head defiantly at her. 

"Now, listen here, byes," said Mary Ellen, 
turning sober all of a sudden, and shutting the 


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door, "you come right out to the kitchen wid me, 
an' we'll talk this thing over. I've got a word 
to say to ye." 

She led the way down the hall and through the 
dining-room with its atmosphere of haircloth, into 
the more friendly kitchen, where even the oppres- 
sions of Mrs. Handsomebody could not quite sub- 
due the bounding spirits of Mary Ellen. 

Angel sallied to the cupboard. "Bother!" he 
said, discontentedly, investigating the cake-box, 
"that same old seedy-cake 1 Won't you please 
make us a treat today, Mary Ellen? Jam tarts 
or some sticky sort of cake like you see in the pas- 
try shop window." 

"That's the very thing I was goin' to speak 
about, my dear," Mary Ellen replied, "if ye'U jist 
howld yer horses." Before proceeding, she cut 
us each, herself included, a slice of the seed cake, 
and, when we were all munching (save Angel, who 
was busy picking the seeds out of his cake) she 
went on — 

"Now, as well ye know, I've worked here 
manny a long month, and I've had followers 
a-plinty, yit there's noan o' thim I like the same 
as Mr. Watlin, the butcher's young man, an' it 
makes me blush wid shame, whin I think that 
after all the pippermints, an' gum drops, an' jaw- 
bone breakers he's give me, not to speak of 
minsthral shows an' rides on the tram-cars, an' 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

I've niver given him so much as a cup o' tay in this 
kitchen. Not wan cup o' tay, mind ye 1" 

We shook our heads commiseratingly. Angel 
flicked his last caraway seed at her^ — 

"Well," he said, with a wink, "you gave him 
something better than tea — I saw you 1" 

"Aw, well, my dear," replied Mary Ellen, with- 
out smiling, "a man that do be boardin' all the 
time likes a little attintion sometimes — an' a taste 
o' home cookin'. Now hark to my plan. I mane 
to have a little feast of oyster stew, an' cake, an' 
coffee, an' the like this very night, fer Mr. Watlin 
an' me, an' yersilves. You kin have yours in the 
dining-room like little gintlemen, an' him an' me'U 
ate in the kitchen here. Thin, after the supper, 
ye kin come out an' hear Mr. Watlin play on the 
fiddle. He plays somethin' grand, havin' larned 
off the best masters. It'll be a rale treat fer ye I 
[The missus 'U niver be the wiser, an' we'll all git 
a taste o' freedom, d' ye see?" 

We were unanimous in our approval. The Ser- 
aph expressing his by a somersault. 

"But," said Angel, "there's just one thing, 
Mary Ellen; if there's going to be a party you 
and Mr. Watlin have got to have yours in the 
dining-room the same as us. It'll be ever so much 
jollier, and more like a real party." 

"Thrue fer ye. Master Angel 1" cried Mary 
Ellen heartily, "sure, there's noan o' the stiff-neck 


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about ye, an' ye'U git yer fill av oysters an' cake 
fer that, mark my words 1 As fer my Mr. 
Watlin, there ain't a claner, smarter feller to be 
found annywheres. But, oh, if the mistress was 
to find it out — " she turned pale with apprehen- 

"How could she?" we assured her. Every cur- 
tain would be drawn, and, besides, Mrs. Hand- 
somebody was not intimate with her neighbours. 

Mary Ellen gave us our cold mutton and rice 
pudding that day in free and easy fashion. She 
did not place the dishes and cutlery with that 
mathematical precision demanded of her by Mrs. 
Handsomebody, but scattered them over the cloth 
in a promiscuous way that we found very exhila- 
rating. And, instead of Mrs. Handsomebody's 
austere figure dominating our repast, there was 
Mary Ellen, resting her red knuckles on the table- 
cloth, and fairly bubbling over with plans for the 
prospective entertainment of her lover! Our 
hearts went out to the good girl and her Mr. Wat- 
lin. We began to think of him as a dear friend. 

"Now, my dears," said she, when the meal was 
over, "take yourselves off while I clane up and do 
my shoppin', but fer pity's sake, don't lave the 
front garden, fer if annything was to happen to 
ye — 

Angel cut her short with — "None of that Mary 
Ellen! This is our day too, and we shall do 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

what we jolly well please 1" He completed his 
protest by throwing himself bodily on the stout 
domestic, and The Seraph and: I, though we had 
eaten to repletion, followed his example. Mary 
Ellen, howbeit, was a match for the three of us, 
and bundled us out of the side entrance into the 
laneway, triumphantly locking the door upon us. 
Without a look behind, we scampered to the 
street, and then stood still, staring at each other, 
dazzled by the vista that opened up before us — 
what to do with these glorious hours of freedom 1 


It was one of those late February days, when 
Nature, after months of frozen disregard for 
man, of a sudden smiles, and you see that her face 
has grown quite young, and that she is filled with 
gracious intent towards you. The bare limbs of 
the chestnut trees before the house looked shiny 
against the dim blue of the sky; they seemed to 
strain upward toward the light and warmth. A 
score of sparrows were busy on the roadway. 

After all, it was The Seraph who made the first 
dash, who took the bit in his milk-teeth, as it were ; 
and, without a by-your-leave, strutted across the 
strip of sod to the road, and so set forth. He 
carried his head very high, and he would now and 
then shake it in that manner peculiar to the equine 
race. Angel and I followed closely with occa- 


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sional caracoles, and cavortings, and scornful 
blowings through the nostrils. All three shied at 
a lamp-post. It needed no second glance to per- 
ceive that we were mettlesome steeds out for exer- 
cise, and feeling our oats. 

A very old gentleman with an umbrella and top 
hat saw us. He rushed to the curb waving his 
umbrella and crying, "Whoa, whoa," but we only 
arched our proud necks and broke into a gallop. 
How the pavement echoed under our flying hoofs ! 
How warmly the sim glistened on our sleek coats 1 
How pleasant the jingling sound of the harness 
and the smell of the harness oil ! 

We left the decorous street we knew so 
well, and turned into narrow and untidy Henwood 
street. Shabby houses and shops were jumbled 
promiscuously together, and the pavement was 
full of holes. From the far end of it came the 
joyous tones of a hand-organ, vibrating on the 
early afternoon air. The eaves on the sunny 
side of the street were dripping. A fishmonger's 
shop sent forth its robust odour. The scarlet of 
a lobster caught our eyes as we flew past. 

Could it be possible that the player of the or- 
gan was our old friend Tony, to whose monkey 
we had often handed our coppers through the 

We were horses no longer. Who had time for 
such pretence when Tony was grinding out "White 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

Wings" with all his might? Angel and I took to 
the side-walk and ran with all speed, leaving the 
poor little Seraph pumping away in the rear, not 
quite certain whether he was horse or boy, but 
determined not to be outdistanced. 

It was indeed Tony, and his white teeth 
gleamed when he saw us coming, and his eyebrows 
went up to his hat brim at sight of us bareheaded 
and alone, who always handed our coppers 
through the palings. And Anita, the monkey, 
was there, looking rather pale and sickly after the 
long Winter, but full of pluck, grinning, as she 
doffed her gold-braided hat. 

Angel and The Seraph rarely had any money. 
The little allowance father gave us through Mrs. 
Handsomebody, burnt a hole in their pockets till 
it was expended on toffee or marshmallows. But 
I was made of different stuff, and by the end of 
the week, I was the financial strength of the trio. 
It was I, who now fished out a penny which Angel 
snatched from me. He craved the joy of the 
giver, and chuckled when Anita's small pink palm 
closed over the coin. But I was too happy to 
quarrel with him. Every one seemed in good- 
humour that day. Windows were pushed up and 
small change tossed out, or dropped in Anita's 
cup as she perched, chattering, on the sill. A 
stout grocer in his white apron gave her a little 
pink biscuit to nibble. Half-grown girls lolled 


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on the handles of perambulators to listen, while 
their charges pulled faces of fear at the supple 

We three sat on the curb close to the organ, 
our small heads reeling with the melodies that 
thundered from it. When Tony moved on, we 
rose and followed him. At the next corner he 
rested his organ on its one leg and looked down 
at us. 

"You betta go home," he admonished, "your 
manmia not like." 

"We're going to run the streets today," I said, 
manfully, "Mrs. Handsomebody is away at a 

"A funer-al," repeated Tony, "she know — 
about dis?" 

"No—" I replied, "but Mary Ellen does." 

"She a beeg lady— dis Marie Ellen?" 

"Oh, yes. She's awfully big. Bigger than 
you, and strong — " 

"Oh, all right," said Tony, "but don' you get 
los'." We helped him to carry the organ. It 
was a new one he said, and very expensive to 
hire. We asked him endless questions we had 
always been wanting to ask — about Italy, and 
his parents, and sisters, and we told him about 
father in South America, and about the party 
that night for Mr. Watlin. 

From street to street we wandered till we were 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

gloriously and irrevocably lost. Angel and I 
helped to grind the organ and The Seraph even 
presented himself at doors with Anita's little tin 
cup in his hand. And either because he was so 
little or his eye-lashes were so long, he never 
came back empty-handed. Tony seemed well 
content with our company. 

So the afternoon sped on. Narrow alleys we 
played in, and wide streets, and once we passed 
through a crowded thoroughfare where we had 
to hug close to the organ, and once we met Tony's 
brother Salvator, who gave us each a long red 

At last Tony, looking down at us with a smile, 

"Jus' one more tune here, then I tak' you 
home. See? De sun's gettin' low and dat little 
one's gettin' tired. I tak' you home in a minute." 

We, remembering the party, were nothing 
loath. Poor Mary Ellen would be in a state by 
now, and our legs had almost given out. 

This street was a quiet one. At the corner 
some untidy little girls danced on the pavement, 
while a group of boys stood by, loafing against 
the window of a small liquor shop, and oc- 
casionally scattering the girls by some threat of 
hair-pulling or kissing. 

The western sky was saffron. The eaves, 
that had been dripping all day, now' wore silent 

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rows of icicles. Possibly the little girls danced 
to keep warm. The Seraph began to whimper. 

"This air stwikes cold on my legs," he mur- 

I sat down beside him on the curb, and we 
snuggled together for warmth. 

"Never mind, old sport," I whispered cheer- 
ily. "Just think of the goodies Mary EUen'sf 
making for us! Pretty soon we'll be home." 

While I strove to revive The Seraph's flag- 
ging spirits, Angel had strolled along the street 
to watch the little girls. He had an eye for the 
gentle sex even when their fairness was disguised 
by dirty pinafores and stiff pigtails. I did not 
see what happened, but above the noise of the 
organ I heard first, shouts of derision and anger, 
and then my brother's voice crying out in pain. 

I pushed aside the clinging Seraph and ran to 
where I saw the two groups melted into one about 
a pair of combatants. The little girls parted 
to let me through. I saw then that the con- 
tending parties were Angel and a boy whose 
tousled head was fully six inches above my 
brother's. He had gripped Angel by the back 
of the neck with one hand, while with the other 
he struck blows that sounded horrible to me. 
Angel was hitting out wildly. When the boy 
saw me, he hooked his leg behind Angel's and 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

threw him on his back with deadly ease, at the 
same time administering a kick in the stomach. 
He turned then to me with a leer. 

"Well, pretty," he simpered, "does yer want 
some too? I s'y fellers, 'ere's another Hangel 
comin' f er 'is dose. Put up yer little 'ooks then ; 
an' I'll give yer two black 'osses an' a red driver 1 
Aw, come on, sissy 1" 

I tried to remember what fatheti had |Said 
about fighting. "Don't clutch and don't paw. 
Strike out from the shoulder like a gentleman." 
*So, while the boy was talking, I struck out from 
the shoulder right on the end of his nose with 
my shut fist. 

Whatever things I may achieve, never, ah, 
never shall I experience a thrill of triumph equal 
to that which made my blood dance when I saw 
a trickle^ — a goodly, rich red trickle! — of blood 
spurt from the bully's nose. 

"Owl Ow! Wesley! Oo's got a red 
driver on 'is own?" shouted his comrades. 
"Plug aw'y little 'unl" 

He snarled horribly, showing his big front 
teeth. I could feel his breath hot on my face as 
he clutched me round the neck. I could see some 
boys holding Angel back, I could hear The 
Seraph's wail of "John! John!" Then, simul- 
taneously there came a blow on my own nose, and 

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2i grasping af my collar, and a shaking that freed 
us of each other, for I was clutching him with 
fury equal to his own. 

A minute passed before I could regain pos- 
session of myself. The street reeled, the organ 
seemed to; be grinding in my own head, and yet 
I found that it was not playing at all, for there 
was Tony with it on his back, looking anxiously 
into my face, and firing a volley of invective after 
the big boy, who was retreating with his mates. 

I looked up at the owner of the hand which 
still held my collar. He was a very thin young 
man with a pale face and quiet grey eyes. 

Tony began to offer incoherent explanations. 

"But who are they?" demanded the young 
man, "they don't seem to belong to this street." 

"No, no, no," reiterated Tony, "dey are little 
fr-riends of mine — dey come for a walk with 
me. Oh, I shall get into some trouble for dis, 
I tinkl It was all dose damn boys dat bully 
heem, an' when I would run to help, dere was 
my Anita lef on da organ, an' I mus' not lose 

"It's all right," I explained to the young man, 
"we were just spending the afternoon with Tony, 
and it wasn't his fault we got to fighting, and — 
and did I do very badly please? Did you notice 
whether I pawed or not?" 


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"By George !" said the young man, "you made 
the claret flowl" 

"It took two of them to hold me or I'd have 
got back at him," said Angel. 

"It took fwee o' them to hold me,'' piped 
The Seraph, "or Fd have punched evwybodyl" 

"How did it start?" enquired the young man. 

"That biggest one asked me my name," re- 
plied Angel, "and before I thought I'd said, 
'Angel,' and that started them. Of course my 
real name is David, but I forgot for the moment." 

"Pet names are a nuisance sometimes," said 
the young man, smiling, "I had one once. It 
was John Peel. But no one calls me that now." 

"I will tak' dem home now," interrupted Tony. 
"Come," taking The Seraph's hand, "dere will 
be no more running da street for you little boys 1" 

"I'll walk along, too," said the young man, 
"I've nothing else to do." 

I strode along at his side greatly elated. I 
was as hot as fire, and some of the gamin's 
blood was still on my hand. I cherished it 

Although the young man had quiet, even sad, 
eyes, it turned out that he was wonderfully in- 
teresting. iHe had travelled considerably, and 
had even visited South America, yet he could not 
have been an engineer like father, building rail- 
roads, for he looked very poor. 


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I was sorry when we reached Mrs. Hand- 
somebody's front door. 

"Good-bye," he said, holding out his hand. 

But a happy thought struck me. I told him 
about Mary Ellen's party. "And," I hurried 
on, "there'll be oysters and coffee and all sorts 
of good things to eat, and we'd like most awfully 
to have you join us if you will. Mary Ellen 
would be proud to entertain a friend of ours. 
Wouldn't she Angel?" 

"Yes, and Tony can come too!" cried Angel. 
"We'll have a regular party 1" 

"Yes, yes, I will come to da party," said Tony, 
quickly, "I am vera hungry. You will egsplain 
to Mees Marie Ellen, yes?" 

"John can 'splain anything,^* put in The 

"Oh, please comel" I pleaded, dragging the 
young man down the side passage. He suffered 
himself to be led as far as the back entrance,, 
but, once there, he halted. 

"Tony and I shall wait here," he said, "and 
you'll go in and send your Mary Ellen out to 
inspect us. We shall see what she thinks of 
such a surprise party before we venture in, eh, 
Tony?" He gave a queer little laugh. 

"Yes, yes," said Tony, "I will leave da organ 
out sida, but Anita mus' come in. She is vera 
good monk in a party." 


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We three entered breathlessly. Who can de- 
scribe the babble of our explanations and appeals 
to Mary Ellen's hospitality, and her reproaches 
for the fright we had given her? Howbeit,! 
when the first clamour subsided, we perceived 
that Mary Ellen's Mr. Watlin was ensconced 
behind the stove, looking tremendously dressed 
up and embarrassed. He now came fonwardl 
and shook each of us by the hand, quite enveloping 
our little paws in a great expanse of warm thick 
flesh, smelling of scented soap. 

The greetings ove^^ Mary Ellen and he con- 
ferred for a moment in the corner, then Mr. 
Watlin creaked across the kitchen on tiptoe (I 
fancy he could not yet bring himself to believe 
in Mrs. Handsomebody's entire absence from 
the house) and disappeared through the outer 
door into the yard where the young man and 
Tony and Anita waited. 

"Now," said, Mary Ellen, sternly, "ye've just 
got to abide by Mr. Watlin's decision. If he 
says they're passable, why, in they come, an' if 
he gives 'em their waUcin' ticket, well an' good, 
an' not a squeak out o* ye. I've had about! 
enough o' yer actions for wan day!" 

"But he's a gentleman, Mary Ellen !" I insisted. 

"Ay, an' the monkey's a lady, no doubt 1 I 


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know the kind!" I had never seen Mary Ellen 
so sour. 

But our fears for our friends were set at rest, 
for at that instant, the door opened and Mr. 
Watlin entered, followed by the young man and 
Tony, with Anita perching on his shoulder. 
Mary Ellen could not rqfr^ain frojm a broad 
smile at the spectacle. The kitchen was filled 
with delightful odours. The spirits of every- 
one seemed to rise at a bound. 

"Good-evening to ye, Tony," said Mary Ellen, 
and then she turned to our new friend. 

**I don't know how you call yourself, sir," she 
said, bluntly. 

"You may call me Harry, if you will," he re- 
plied, after a slight hesitation. 

Mary Ellen, with a keen look at him, said, 
"Won't you sit down, sir? The victuals will be 
on the table in the dining-room directly. Mr. 
Watlin, would ye mind givin' me a hand with 
them dish-covers?" 

Mr. Watlin assisted Mary Ellen deftly, and 
with an air of proprietorship. He was a stout 
young man with a blond pompadour, and a 
smooth-shaven ruddy face. As soon as an op- 
portunity offered, I asked him whether he had 
brought his fiddle. He smiled enigmatically. 

"You shall see wot you shall see, and 'ear wot 
you shall 'ear," he replied. 


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In time the great tureen (Mrs. Handsome- 
body's silver plated one) was on the table and 
the guests were bidden to "sit in." Mary Ellen, 
full of dignity, seated herself in Mrs. Handsome- 
body's place behind the coffee urn, while Mr. 
Watlin drew forward the heavy armchair, which 
since the demise of Mr. Handsomebody, had 
been occupied by no one save the Unitarian minis- 
ter when he took tea with us. Angel and The 
Seraph and I were ranged on one side of the table, 
and Tony and Harry on the other. Anita sat 
on the chair behind Tony, and every now and 
again she would push her head under his arm 
and peer shyly over the table, or reach with a 
thin little claw toward a morsel of food he was 
raising to his mouth. 

It would be impossible to conceive of seven 
people with finer appetites, or of a hostess more 
determined that her guests should do themselves 
injury from over-eating. Although two of our 
company were unexpected, there was more than 
enough for every one. The oysters were fol- 
lowed by a Bedfordshire pudding, potatoes, cold 
ham, celery, several sorts of pastry, oranges and 
coffee. It was when we reached the lighter por- 
tion of the feast that tongues were unloosed, 
and conviviality bloomed like an exotic flower in 
Mrs. Handsomcbody's dining-room. 


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Mary Ellen placed a plateful of scraps on the 
floor before Anita. 

She said, "That ought to stand to her, pore 
thing! She do be awful ganted." 

"These *erc fancies is wot tikes me," said Mr. 
Watlin, helping himself to his third lemon turn- 
over. "Sub-stantial food is all right. I 
shouldn't care to do without meat and the like, 
but it's the fancies that seems to tickle all the 
w'y down. Sub-stantial foods is like hugs, but 
fancies might come under the 'ead of kisses — 
you don't know when you get enough on 'em^ 
hey Tony? You lika da kiss?" 

Tony turned up his palms. 

"Oh, no, no, dey are not! for a poor fella lak 

"Watlin," said Harry, " did you say you were 
a Kent man?" 

"Ay, from Kent, the garden of England." 

"Are you related to Carrot Bill Watlin, then?" 

"Carrot BiUl" shouted Mr. Watlin, "Carrot 
Billl Am I related to 'im? W'y 'e's my uncle, 
'e is 1 And do you know 'im then?" 

"I've seen him hundreds of times," said Harry. 

"There never was such a feller as Carrot Bill," 
said Mr. Watlin, turning to us, "there ain't no- 
body in Kent can bunch carrots like 'im. W'y, 
truck-men from all over the county brings their 


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carrots to Bill to be bunched, afore they tikes 
'em to Covent Garden Market 1 'E trims 'em 
down just so, an' fits 'em together till you'd think 
they'd growed in bunches. An' they look that 
'andsome that they bring a penny more a bunch. 
An' to fancy you know 'im — well I never 1 Wot 
nime was it you said?" 


"Ow, I meant your surnime." 

"Smith," said Harry, shortly. 

"Smith," meditated Mr. Watlin, "I know 
several Smiths in Kent. You're likely one on 
'em. Well, I must shake 'ands with you for the 
sake of Carrot Bill." He reached across the 
table and grasped Harry's hand in a hearty 
shake. Thereupon we drank a health to Carrot 
Bill in bottled beer; and this was followed by a 
toast to Mrs. Handsomebody, which somehow 
subdued us a little. 

" 'Er brother is dead you s'y," reflected Mr. 
Watlin, "and 'ow hold a man might 'e be?" 

"Blessed if I know," replied Mary Ellen, "but 
he was years an' years younger than her. She 
brought him up, and from what I can find out, 
he turned out pretty bad." 

"Tck, tck." Mr. Watlin was moved. "It 
was very sad for the lidy, but 'e's dead now,' 
poor chap 1 We must speak no ill of the dead." 

"It's a vewy bad fing to be dead," interposed 
The Seraph, sententiously, "you can't eat, you 


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can't dwink, an' you just fly 'wound an' 'wound, 
lookin' for somefing to light onl" 

"Right-o, young gentleman 1" said Mr. Wat- 
lin, "and put as couldn't be better. And the 
moral is, mike the most of our time wot's leftl" 

"Well, fer my part," sighed Mary Ellen, "I've 
et so hearty, I feel like as though I'd a horse set- 
tin' on my stomickl Sure I don't know how to 

"A little pinch of bi-carbonate of soder will 
hease that, my dear," said her lover. 

"Please, did you bring your fiddle, Mr. Wat- 
lin?" pleaded Angel, "won't you play now?" 

"Ah, I lof da fiddle 1" said Tony, caressing 
Anita's little head. 

Mr. Watlin, thus importuned, disappeared for 
a space into the back hall, whence he finally 
emerged in his shirt sleeves, carrying the violin 
under his arm. We drew our chairs together 
at one end of the room, and watched him as he 
tuned the instrument, frowning sternly the while. 

"Lydies and gentleman," said he, "I 'ope 
you'll pardon^ me appearing before you in my 
waistcoat. I must not be 'ampered you see, wen 
I manipulate the bow. I must 'ave freedom., 
It's a grand thing freedom!" Ah I" 

"He's gone as far as he can go on the fiddle," 
explained Mary Ellen to the company. "Some- 
day he'll give up the butchering business and take 
to music thorough." 

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Explorers of the Dawn 

Mr. Watlin now, with the violin tucked under 
his chin, began to play in a very spirited manner. 
Our pulses beat time to lively polka and schot- 
tische while Mr. Watlin tapped on the carpet 
with his large foot as he played. Mary Ellen 
was wild for a dance, she said. 

"Get up and 'ave a gow, then," encouraged 
Mr. Watlin, "you and 'Arry there 1" But she, 
for some reason, would not, and Harry was not 

"I can play da fiddle a little," said Tony, as 
our artist paused for a rest. 

Mr. Watlin clapped him good-humouredly on 
the shoulder. "Go to it then, my boy, give us 
your little tunel Fm out of form tonight, any- 
w'y-" He pushed the violin patronizingly into 
Tony's brown hands. 

The Italian took it, oh, so lovingly, and, with 
an apologetic glance at Mr. Watlin, he tuned' 
the strings to a different pitch. Anita climbed 
to the back of his neck. 

Then came music, flooding, trickling, laughing, 
from the bow of Tony! Italy you could see; 
and little, half-naked children, playing in the 
sleepy street! You could hear the tinkle of 
donkey bells, and the cooing of pigeons ; you could 
see Tony's home as he was seeing it, and hear his 
sisters singing. It was Spring in Tuscany. 

The theme grew sad. It sang of loneliness. 

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A lost child was wandering through the forest, 
who could not find his mother. It was very 
dark beneath the fir trees, and the wind made 
the boy shiver. His cry of — Mother! 
Mother 1 echoed in my heart and would not be 
hushed. I hid my face in the hollow of my arm 
and sobbed bitterly. 

The music ceased. Harry had me in his arms. 

"What's wrong, old fellow, was it something 
in Tony's music that hurt?" 

I nodded, clinging to him. 

"It's 'igh time 'e was in bed," said Mr. Wat- 
lin, taking the fiddle brusquely from the Italian's 
hands, " 'e don't fancy doleful ditties, an' no more 
do I, hey Johnnie?" 

Tony only smiled at me. "I tink you like my 
music," he said. 

Harry now announced rather hurriedly that 
he must be going, and after he had said good- 
night to every one, and thanked Mary Ellen in a 
very manly way, he still kept my hand in his, 
and, together, we passed out of doors. 

It was frosty cold. The air came gratefully 
to my hot cheeks. Harry stared up at the stars 
in silence for a moment, then he said : 

"I want to tell you something, John, before 
I go. I don't know just how to make you under- 
stand. But I — I'm not the loafer you think I 
am — 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

"Oh, I don't—" 

"No one but a loafer or a sponge would do 
what IVe done tonight," he persisted, "but I 
came here because I like you little chaps so well 
— and — ^because — I was so infernally hungry. 
I hadn't eaten since last night, you know, and 
when I heard about the oysters and coffee, I just 
couldn't refuse, and — I came." 

"Oh, Fm sorry," I said, "I'm sorry, Harry 1 
I like you awfully!" 

I gave him my hand and, hearing the voices 
of Mr. Watlin and Tony, he hurried to the street. 

I stumbled sleepily into the kitchen. 

"Och, do go to bed, Masther Johnl" ex- 
claimed Mary Ellen, "you're as white as a cloth 1 
Well, if you're sick tomorrow, ye must jist grin 
an' bear itl An' sure we have had a day of it, 
haven't we? Thim oysters was the clane thing!" 


She followed us to the foot of the stairs with 
a lamp. The shadows of the bannisters raced 
up the wall ahead of us, as she moved away. 
The Seraph gripped the back of my blouse. We 
stopped at the door of Mrs. Handsomebody's 
bedroom. Like Mrs. Handsomebody, it towered 
above us, pale and forbidding. 

"I dare you," said Angel, "to open it and stick 
your head in." 


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I was too drowsy to be timid. I turned the 
handle and opened the door far enough to insert 
my round tow head. 

The room was unutterably still. A pale blu- 
ish light filtered through the long white curtains. 
The ghostly bed awaited its occupant. The door 
of a tall wardrobe stood open — did something 
stir inside? I withdrew my head and closed 
the door. Now I remembered that the room 
had smelled of black kid gloves. I shuddered. 

"You were afraid 1" jeered Angel. 

"Not I. It was nothing to do." 

But when we were safe in bed and Mary Ellen 
had come and put out our light, I lay a-thinking 
of the empty room. Strange, when people went 
away and left you, how Something stayed be- 
hind! A shadowy, wistful something, that 
smelled of kid gloves I 

We slept till ten next morning. Mary Ellen 
superintended our baths. We were in a state 
to behold, she said, and she was apprehensive 
lest Mrs. Handsomebody should observe my 
swollen nose, for the big boy's fist had somewhat 
enlarged that unobtrusive feature. 

"Jist say yeVe a bit of feverish cold if she 
remarks it," she cautioned, "people often swells 
up wid colds." 

We ate our bread and strawberry jam and milk 
from one end of the dining table. We heaped 


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the bread with sugar, and stirred the jam into 
our milk. After breakfast, we played at knights 
and robbers in the schoolroom. It was a raw 
morning, and a Scotch mist dimmed the window 

Angel and I were in the midst of a terrific fight 
over a princess whom he was bearing off to his rob- 
ber cave (The Seraph, draped in a chenille table- 
cover, impersonating the princess) when we were 
interrupted by the tinkle of the dinner bell. 

How the morning had flown! Had she re- 
turned then? Was the funeral over? Had she 
heard our shouts? We descended the stairs with 
some misgivings and entered the dining-room in 
single file. 

Yes, she was there, standing by the table, her 
black dress looking blacker than everl After; 
a dry little kiss on each of our foreheads, she 
motioned us to seat ourselves, and took her own 
accustomed place behind the tea things. There 
was a solemn click of knives and forks. Mary 
Ellen waited on us primly. It was not ta be 
thought that this was the same room in which 
we had feasted so uproariously on the night 

Yet I stared at Mrs. Handsomebody and mar- 
velled that she should suspect nothing. Did she 
get no whiff of the furry smell of Anita? Did 
no faint echo of Tony's music disturb her 


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thoughts? What were her thoughts? Deep 
ones I was sure, for her brow was knit. Was 
she thinking of that brother on whom the Scotch 
mist was falling so remorselessly? 

The Seraph was speaking. 

"It's a vewy bad fing to be dead," he was say- 
ing reminiscently — , "you can't eat, you canft 
dwink, an' you jus' fly awound lookin' for some- 
fing to light on!" 

I trembled for him, but Mrs. Handsomebody, 
lost in thought, gave no heed to him. 

At last she raised her eyes. 

"I hope you behaved yourselves well, and made 
profitable use of your time during my absence?" 

We made incoherent murmurs of assent. 

"Name the Channel Islands, John." 

"Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, and 
Herm," I replied glibly. So much had I saved 
from the wreck of things ordained. 

"Correct. Are you through your dinners 
then ? You may pass out. Ah, your nose, John ; 
it looks quite red. What caused that?" 

I said that I believed I had an inward burn- 
ing fever. I had embellished Mary Ellen's sug- 

"I hope you are not going to be ill," she 

It was not until Angel and I were back in the 
schoolroom, that we discovered the absence of The 


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Seraph. We turned surprised looks on each 
other. Our junior seldom left our heels. 

"I remember now," reflected Angel, "that, as 
he passed her, she stopped him. I didn't think 
anything of it. What can she have found out? 
D'you s'pose she's pumping the kid?" 

We were left to our conjectures for fully a 
quarter of an hour. Then we heard him plod- 
ding leisurely up the stairs. We greeted him 

"What's up? Did you blab? Whatever did 
she say?" We hurled the questions at him. 

The Seraph maintained an air of calm super- 
iority. He even hopped from one floral wreath 
on the carpet to another, with his hands behind 
his back, as was his custom when he wished to 
reflect undisturbed. He ignored our impor- 

Angel, in exasperation, took him by the collar. 

"You tell us why she kept you down there so 

Thus cornered. The Seraph raised his large eyes 
to our inquiring faces with great solemnity. 

"She kept me," he said, "to cuddle me, an' 
to give me this — " he showed a white peppermint 
lozenge between his little teeth. 

To cuddle him. Was the world coming to an 

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"Yes," he persisted, "she kept me to cuddle 
me, an' she was cwyin' — so there I" 

Mrs. Handsomebody crying 1 

"It's about her dead brother, of course," 
said Angel. "That's why she cried." 

"No," said The Seraph, stoutly. "He was a 
man, an' she was cwyin' about a little wee boy 
like me, she used to cuddle long agol" 



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Chapter VI: D'ye Ken John 


Probably a little boy is never quite so happy 
as when he is worshipping and imitating a young 
man. From this time on my hero was Harry, 
about whom so fascinating an air of mystery 
hung that his lightest word was something to be 
treasured. I pictured him, hungry and alone, 
perhaps brooding over the Collect for next Sun- 
day, or something of equal melancholy. I was 
always on the watch for his tall, slender figure, 
when we took our walks, but when we did meet 
again, it came as a surprise, and quite took me 
off my feet. 

A month had passed since Mary Ellen's party. 
It was a windy, sunny day in March, and great 
white clouds billowed in a clear sky — ^like clean 
clothes in a tub of blueing, Mary Ellen had said. 
I was sitting alone on the steps of the Cathedral. 
Angel was in the schoolroom writing his weekly 
letter to father, and The Seraph was suffering 
a bath at the hands of Mary Ellen, following an 
[i6o] • 

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D*ye Ken John Peel? 

excursion into the remoter depths of the coal 

So I sat on the Cathedral steps alone. It was 
a fine morning for flights of the imagination. 
The soft thunder of the Cathedral organ became 
at my will the booming of the surf on a distant 
coral reef. The pigeons wheeling overhead be- 
came gulls, whimpering in the cordage. Little 
did the ancient caretaker reck, as he swept the 
stretch of flagging before the carved door, that he 
was washing off the deck of a frigate, whilst I, the 
rover of the seas, kept a stern eye on him. 
Louder boomed the surf — then soft again. The 
door behind me had opened and closed. The 
deck-washer touched his cap. Then the Bishop 
stood above me, smiling, the sun glinting in his 
blue eyes and on the buttons of his gaiters. 

"Hal-/o, John," he said. **What's the game 
this morning. Seafaring as usual?" 

I nodded, "She's as saucy a frigate," I an- 
swered happily, "as ever sailed the seas, and this 
here wild weather is just a frolic for her. But 
I don't like the look of yon black craft to the 
windward." And I pointed to a dustman's cart 
that had just hove into view. 

"I entirely agree with you," replied the Bishop. 
"She looks as though she were out on dirty busi- 
ness. I'd like nothing better than to stay and see 
you make short work of her, but here it is Fri- 


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day morning, and not a blessed word of my sermon 
written, so I must be getting on." And with 
that he strode down the street to his own house. 
I was alone again watching the approaching vessel 
with suspicion. Then, above the thrashing of 
the spray, I heard my name spoken by a voice 
I knew, and turning looked straight up into 
Harry's face. 

"John I" he repeated. "What luck. I have 
been watching for you for days, you little hermit I" 

"Watching for me, Harry?" 

"Yes," he proceeded, "and the one time I saw 
you, that starched governess of yours had you 
gripped by the hand — " 

— "just like any old baby girl," I broke in. 

Harry laughed and shook my hand enthusi- 
astically. I ^aw that he was even thinner than 
before. Was he, I wondered, "infernally hun- 
gry" at this very minute? 

"John," he said, looking into my eyes: "You 
can help me if you will. We're friends, aren't 

I let him see that I was all on fire to help him, 
and it was then that he made his wonderful sug- 

"Would it be possible to evade your gover- 
ness long enough to come and have a bite with 

Dinner with Harry ! In his own room I What 


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D'ye Ken John Peel? 

an adventure to repeat to Angel and The Seraph ! 
Without further parley I set off down Henwood 
street at a trot lest Mrs. Handsomebody should 
spy me from her bedroom window, in a fateful 
way she had. Harry hurried after me, catching 
my arm and drawing me close to him. 

"What a plucky little shaver you are, John," 
he said. "I know she's a corker, but I think you 
and I are a match for her, eh?" 

I strode beside him breathless. I felt taller, 
stronger, than ever before. By contrast with our 
masculinity Mrs. Handsomebody seemed a rather 
pitiful old woman. 

We spoke little, but hurried through many 
streets, till, at last, we came to the narrow dingy 
one where I had first seen Harry. We turned 
down an alley beside a green grocer's shop and 
entered a narrow doorway into the strangest 
passage I had ever seen. 

It was damp and chill. The floor was paved 
with dark red brides and the walls were stone. 
On our left I glimpsed a dim closet where a 
woman with fat arms was dipping milk out of 
what looked like a zinc-covered box. On our 
right rose the steepest, most winding staircase im- 
aginable; and close to the wall beside the stairs 
towered a giant grapevine whose stem was as 
thick as a man's arm. After an eccentric curve 
or two, this amazing vine disappeared through a 


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convenient hole in the roof. I was lost in admi- 
ration and should have liked to stop and examine 
it, but Harry urged me up the stairs. 

"How is that for steep?" he demanded, at the 
top. "Winded, eh? Now these are my digs, 
John — " and he threw open a door with a flourish. 

It was a shabby little room with a threadbare 
carpet, yet it wore an air of adventure somehow. 
The lamp shade had a daring tilt to it ; the blind 
had been run up askew; and the red table cover 
had been pushed back to make room for a mound 
of books. Harry's bed looked as though he had 
been having a pillow fight. Surely not with the 
fat lady downstairs. 

Harry was clearing the table by tossing the 
books into the middle of the bed. "We're going 
to have tea directly," he explained. "Can't you 
hear her puffing up the stairs? I expect a catas- 
trophe every time she does it." He set two chairs 
at the table and gazed eagerly at the doorway. 

She appeared at last with heaving bosom carry- 
ing a large tray, and began to* lay the table. I 
observed with great interest that she was placing 
a whole kidney for each of us, and that there were 
also potato chips and six jam puffs. Harry bade 
me sit down with the air of one who entertains a 
guest of importance ; I swelled with pride as I at- 
tacked the kidney. 


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Harry, sitting opposite, eating with a gusto 
equal to my own, seemed to me the most perfect 
and luckiest of mortals. 

"Harry I" I got it out through my mouth full 
of potato chips, "Harry, I sayl Do you always 
have jolly things like these to eat?" 

He gave a short laugh. 

"Oh, no, my John I On the contrary there are 
many times when I do not eat at all. However, 
I paid a visit to an uncle of mine yesterday, who 
gave me so much money that I shall live well for 
some time to come, but — I shall never know the 
time o'day." 

"Oh, but that's fine—" I cried, "Not to know 
the time 1 I wish I didn't for it's always time to 
go to bed, or do lessons, or take a tiresome walk 
with Mrs. Handsomebody." 

Harry stared hard at me. "What do you sup- 
pose," he asked, "she'll do to you, for skipping 
dinner? Something pretty hot?" 

"I dunno," I returned. "It's a new sort of 
badness. P'raps I'll have to do without tea, or 
maybe she'll write to father — she's always threat- 
ening. Don't let's talk about it." 

"She appears to be a rather poisonous old 
party," commented Harry. "I see that it be- 
hooves me to get to business and tell you just why 
I brought you here." He pushed back his plate 

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and took from his pocket a short thidc pipe and 
lighted it. 

"Now John," he smiled, "just finish up those 
jam puffs. Don't leave one, or my landlady will 
eat it, and she has double chins enough. I want 
to talk to you as man to man." 

Man to man 1 How I wished that Angel could 
see me, being made the confidant of Harry 1 I 
helped myself to my third jam puff with an air of 
cool deliberation. 

"Now — " Harry leant across the table, his 
eyes on mine, "What sort of looking man would 
you expect my father to be, John?" 

I studied Harry and hazardedj — "A brown 
face, and awfully thin, and greenish eyes, and 
crinkly brown hair." 

"Wrong!" cried Harry, smiting the table. 
"My father's got a full pink face, the bluest of 
eyes and a fine head of white hair, which, I am 
afraid I helped to whiten, worse luck!" 

"He sounds nice," I commented. 

"He is. Now what do you suppose my father 
does, John?" 

"Not a pirateT but I said it hopefully. 

"Far from it. He's a bishop." 

"Hurray!" I cried. "Our best friend is a 
bishop. He lives right next door to us." 

"The very man," said Harry. "He's my 


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I was incredulous. 

"But he's only got his niece, Margery, and his 
butler, and his cook! The cook's awfully good 
to him. Makes his favorite pudding any day he 
wants it." 

"Ay, but he's got me too," said Harry sol- 
emnly, "or, at least, he should have me. We're 
at the outs." 

"Well, then, all you have to do is to make 
friends, isn't it?" 

"Not so simple as it sounds," replied Harry 

"I have been a bad son to him." He rose ab- 
ruptly and began walking up and down the room. 
I got to my feet too, and strode beside him, 
hands deep in pockets. I longed for a short 
thick pipe. 

"I never did what he wanted me to," pursued 
Harry. "He wanted me to stick at college and 
make something of myself, but all I cared to do 
was to knock about with chaps who weren't good 
for me, and I simply wouldn't study. So we had 
words. Hot ones too. I left home with a little 
money my mother had left me. I was twenty-one 
then — five years ago." He looked down in my 
face with his sudden smile. "You're a rum little 
toad," he said. "I like to talk to you, John." 

I thought: "When I'm a man I'll have a pipe 
like that, and hold it in my teeth when I talk." 

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Harry sat down on the side of his tumbled bed 
clasping an ankle. 

"For three years," he went on, "I knocked 
about from one country to another seeing the 
world, till at last all my money was gone. Then 
I came back to England but I wouldn't go to my 
father until I had done something that would 
justify myself — ^make him proud of me. It 
seemed to me that I could become a great actor 
if I had a chance. Very well. After a lot of 
waiting and disappointments I got an engage- 
ment with a third rate company that travelled 
mostly on one-night stands — ^you understand? 

"I have been at it ever since, playing all sorts 
of parts, — companies breaking up without salaries 
being paid — then another just as bad — cheap 
lodgings — ^bad food- — and long stretches of being 
out of a job altogether. I am that way now. 
I have only seen my father once in all this time. 
It was simply — well — " He gave his funny 
smile and shook his head ruefully. 

I leaned over the foot of the bed staring 

"We had arrived one Sunday morning in a 
small town, and were trailing wearily down the 
street just as the people were going to morning 
service. Suddenly, as I was passing a large 
church, I saw my father alight from the carriage 
at ^the door. I found out afterwards that he 


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D'ye Ken John Peel? 

had come to conduct a special service. He was 
so near that I could have touched him, but I just 
stood, rooted to the spot, so beastly ashamed 
you know, with my shabby travelling bag behind 
me, and my heart pounding away like Billy-ho !" 

"Oh, I wish he'd seen you I" I cried, "he'd 
have made it up like a shot." 

Harry blew a great cloud of smoke. "Well, 
I want to sneak back to him, John — ^but — here's 
the rub — perhaps Margery does not want me** 
He sucked gloomily at his pipe for a bit in silence, 
then taking it from his mouth he stabbed at me 
Iwith the stem of it. 

"This is where you come in my friend. You'd 
likei to help, wouldn't you?" 

I nodded emphatically. 

"This, then, is what I want you to do. Find 
Margery this afternoon and say to her: 'Mar- 
gery, I've met your cousin Harry. Would you 
like to have him come home again?' Watch her 
face then — ^you're a shrewd little fellow — and if 
she looks happy and pleased about it you must 
let me know, but if she looks glum and as if her 
plans had been upset, you must tell me just the 
same. Never mind what she says, watch her 
face. Will you do it?" 

"Rather!" We shook hands on it. 

"But—" I asked, "when shall I see you? I 
daren't come here again, I'm afraid." 


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"Tomorrow is Saturday," he replied thought- 
fully. "The Bishop will keep to his study till 
noon — " 

"And Mrs. Handsomebody goes to market!" 
I chimed in. 

"Good, m be at the Cathedral corner at ten 
o'clock. Meet me there. Now you'd better cut 

He took my arm and led me down the strange 
winding stairway, through the cool damp passage 
where the grapevine grew, to the sunken door- 

"Know your way home?" he demanded. 
"Right-o! I depend on you, John. And mind 
you watch her face, like a cat. Good-bye 1" 
And he affectionately squeezed my arm. 


I set off as fast as my legs could carry me; 
and the nearer home I drew, the greater became 
my fear of Mrs. Handsomebody. What would 
she say? Dinner would be over long ago I knew. 
My steps began to lag as I reached the Cathedral 
comer. The great grey pile usually so friendly 
now rose before me gloomily. Inside, the organ 
boomed like an accusing voice. My heart sank. 
Mrs. Handsomebody's house with the blinds 
drawn three-quarters of the way down the win- 
dows seemed to watch my approach with an air 
of cold cynicism. 


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Softly I turned the door-knob and entered the 
dim hall. All was quiet, a quiet pervaded by 
the familiar smell of old fabrics, by-gone meals, 
and umbrellas. The white door of the parlour 
towered like a ghost. I put my arm across; my 
eyes and began to cry. 

At first I only snivelled, but surrendered my- 
self after a few successful ventures, to a loud des- 
pairing roar. 

I could see the blurred image of Mrs. Hand- 
somebody standing at the top of the stairs. I 
heard her sharp command to mount them in- 
stantly, and I began to grope my way up, hang- 
ing by the bannister. 

When I had gained the top, her angular hand 
grasped my shoulder and pushed me before her, 
into the schoolroom. The Seraph's eyes were 
large with sympathy, but Angel grinned malici- 
ously. Our governess seated herself beside her 
desk and placed me in front of her. 

"Now," she said, in a voice of cold anger, 
"will you be good enough to explain your strange 
conduct? Where have you been all this while?" 

"Sittin' on the Cathedral steps," I sobbed. 

"That is a falsehood, John. Twice I sent 
David to search for you there and both 
times he reported that you were nowhere 
in sight. Where were you? Answer truthfully 
or it will be the worse for you." 


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"I h-hid when I saw him comin'," I stam- 
mered, "I was too s-sick to come home." Surely 
this would affect her! 

She stared increduously. "Sick! Where are 
you sick?" 

"All o-ver." 

"Take your hand from your eyes. What 
made you sick?" 

"I f.fell." 

"Fell !" her tone was contemptuous. "Where 
did you fall?" 


Mrs. Handsomebody became ironical. 

"How extraordinary! I have never heard of 
people falling up." 

"They can fall out," interrupted Angel. 

Mrs. Handsomebody rapped her ruler in his 

"Silence!" she gobbled. "Not another word 
from you." Then, turning to me — "You say 
that you fell down, hurt yourself, and have since 
been in hiding. Now tell me precisely what hap- 
pened from the moment that you ventured be- 
yond the bounds I have prescribed for you." 

There was no use in hedging. I saw that there 
was nothing for it but to drown this woman out ; 
so I raised my voice and drowned her out. 

My next sensation was that of a scuffle, several 
sharp smacks with the ruler, and at last being 


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D'ye Ken John Peel? 

sat down very hard on a chair in our bedroom. 
Mrs. Handsomebody was standing in the door- 
way. I had never seen her with so high a colour. 

"You will remain in that chair," she com- 
manded, "until tea time. Do not loll on the 
bed. And you may rest assured that I shall 
leave no stone unturned till I have discovered 
every detail of this prank. It is at such times 
as these that I regret ever having undertaken 
the charge of three such unruly boys. It is only 
the high regard in which I hold your father that 
makes it tolerable. I hope you will take ad- 
vantage of your solitude to review thoroughly 
your past." 

She closed the door with deliberate fore- 
bearance, then I heard the key click in the lock 
and her inexorable retreating footsteps. 

I found my wad of a handkerchief and rubbed 
my cheeks. I had stopped crying but my 
body still was shaken. For a long time I sat 
staring straight before me busy with plans for 
the afternoon. Then I fell asleep. 

A soft thumping on the panel of the door 
roused me at last. I felt stiff and rather desolate. 

"John!" It was The Seraph's voice. "I say, 
John! You should be a dwagon, an' when I 
kick on the door you should woar fwightfuUy." 

"Where's shef 'Twas thus we designated 
our governess. 


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"Gone away out. Will you be a dwagon, 

Obligingly I dropped to my hands and knees 
and ambled to the door. The Seraph lacked it 
vigorously and I began to roar. I was pleased 
to find that so much crying had left my voice 
very husky so that I could indeed roar horribly. 
The louder The Seraph kicked the louder I 
roared. It was exhausting, and I had had about 
enough of it when I heard Mary Ellen pounding 
up the uncarpeted back stairs. 

"If you kick that dure onct more — " she panted 
^ — "ye? little tormint — I'll put a tin ear on ye! 
As fer you, Masther John, 'tis yersilf has a voice 
like young thunder!" 

She unlocked the door and threw it wide open; 
Angel and The Seraph crowded in after her. 
Mary Ellen's sleeves were rolled above her 
elbows, her red face was covered with little beads 
of perspiration, and she wore large goloshes. A 
savour of soap suds, mops, and the corners of old 
pantries, emanated from her. She extended to 
me a moist palm on which lay a thick slice of 
bread spread with cold veal gravy. 

"This," said she, "is to stay ye till tea-time; 
an' now let me git bade to me scrubbin' or the 
suds'U be all dried up on me." 

But I caught her apron and held her fast. 

"Oh, don't go, Mary Ellen!" I begged, "IVc 


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D'ye Ken John Peel? 

something awfully interesting to tell you. Do 
sit down!" 

'*I will not thin. And youVe nothin' to tell 
me that I haven't got be heart already." 

"But this is about Harry, who had supper with 
us and Mr* Watlin and Tony. It's a most sur- 
prising adventure. Just wait and hear." I 
dragged her to a chair. 

She settled back with a smile of relaxation. 
"Aw well," she remarked, "who would be foriver 
workin' fer small pay an' little thanks? Out 
wid your story my lambie." And she drew The 
Seraph on her ample lap. 

So while they clustered about me I told my 
whole adventure, ending with Harry's plea that 
I interview Margery on his behalf. 

"It's a 'normous responsibility," I sighed. 

"Don't you worry," said Mary Ellen, "she'll 
want him home fast enough, a fine young pntle- 
man like him. Now I'm minded of it, their cook 
did tell me that the Bishop had a son that was a 
regular playboy. 

"He's not a playboy," I retorted. "He's 
splendid — and please Mary Ellen, there's some- 
thing I want you to do for me. You must let 
me go this minute to see Margery and find out 
if she wants him back again." 

?'Oh, she'll have him, no fear." This with a 
broad smile. 

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"But I've got to ask her. I promised. It's 
a 'normous responsibility. Will you please let 
me, Mary El-len?" 

"I will not," replied Mary Ellen, firmly. 
"It'ud be as much as my place is worth." 

I began to cry. Angel came to the rescue. 

"Be a sport, Mary Ellen. Let him go. I'll 
stand at the gate and ifi I see the Dragon com- 
ing, I'll pass the tip to John, and he can cut over 
the garden wall and be in the room before she 
gets to the front door." 

Mary Ellen threw up her hands. She never 
could resist Angel's coaxing. "God save Ire- 
land," she groaned, and, dropping The Seraph, 
clattered back to the kitchen. 

The Seraph stood like a rumpled robin where 
she had deposited hini. He had confided to me 
once that he rather liked being nursed by Mary 
Ellen, though the heaving of her bosom bothered 
him. He was far too polite to tell her this : but 
now that she was gone, he hunched his shoulders, 
stretched his neck and breathed^ — 

"What a weliefl— " 

I found Margery alone in the drawing-room. 
People had just been, for teacups were standing 
about, and a single muffin lay in a silver muffin 
dish. Even in the stress of my mission its iso- 
lation appealed to me. 

Margery was doing something to a bowl of 


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D'ye Ken John Peelf 

roses but she looked up, startled at my ap- 

"Why, John!" she exclaimed, "what is the mat- 
ter with you? Have you been crying? Your 
face is awfully smudgy." 

"Sorry," I replied, "I wasn't crying but I'm 
on very particular business and I hadn't time to 
wash." I went at it, hammer and tongs, then — 
"It's about Harry. He wants to know if you'll 
have him home again." 

Margery looked just puzzled. 

"Harry! Harry who?" 

"Your Harry," I replied, manfully. "The 
Bishop's Harry." And I poured out the whole 
story of my meeting with Harry and his pas- 
sionate desire to come home. All the while, I 
anxiously watched Margery's face for signs of 
joy or disapproval. It was pale and still as the 
face of a white moth, but when she spoke her 
words fell on my budding hopes like cold rain. 
She put her hands on my shoulders and said 

"You must tell him not to come, John. It 
would be such a great pity I The Bishop is quite, 
quite used to being without him now, and it would 
upset him dreadfully to try to for^ve Harry. 
I don't believe he could. And he and I are so 
contented. Harry would be very disturbing — 
you see, he's such a restless young man, John; 


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and he hasn't been at all kind to his father. He's 
done — things — " 

"But you don't know him!" I interrupted. 
"He's splendid!" 

"I don't want to know him," Margery per- 
sisted. "He's a very — " 

I could let this thing go no further. Here 
was another woman who must be drowned out. 
I raised my voice, therefore, and almost 
shouted — 

"Well, you've got to know him! He's com- 
ing home tomorrow night. At seven. He 
wants his bed got ready. So there.*' 

Margery sat down. She got quite red. 

"Why didn't you tell me this before?" she de- 

" 'Cos I was breaking it to you gently, like 
they do accidents," I answered calmly. 

Suddenly Margery began to laugh hysterically. 
!She pressed her palms against her cheeks and 
laughed and laughed. Then she said: — 

"John, you're a most extraordinary boy." 

I thought so too, but I said, modestly — "Oh, 
well. Somebody had to do it." Then, in the 
flush of my triumph I remembered Mrs. Hand- 
somebody. "But, oh, I say, I must be going! 
An4 — ^please — ^would it matter much if we were 
here to see himl come home? We'd be very 


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D'ye Ken John Feelf 

Margery looked relieved. "I believe it would 
help — " she said. "It will be rather difficult. 
Yes, do come. Ask your governess if you may 
spend an hour with Uncle and me between your 
tea and bedtime. And, oh, John, that muffin 
looks wretchedly lonely." 

Outside, I divided the spoils with Angel. 

"Well — " he demanded, his mouth full of 
muffin — "shewanimbagagen ?" 

"Rather," I cried, joyously. "I managed the 
whole thing. And we're to be there at seven to 
see him come." 

We raced to the kitchen and told Mary Ellen, 
who was promptly impressed, but The Seraph 
after a close scrutiny of us, said bitterly — 

"There's cwumbs on your faces 1" 

"Cwumbs on your own face, old sillybillyl" 
mocked Angel, "and what's more, they're sugar 
cwumbs I" 


As fate would have it, Mrs. Handsomebody 
decreed that I should not leave the house on 
jSaturday morning, and she, having a spell of 
sciatica did not go to market, as usual; so there 
I was, unable to meet Harry on the cathedral 
steps, as I had promised. It simply meant that 
Angel must undertake the mission, while I kicked 
my heels in the schoolroom. 


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He undertook it with a careless alacrity that 
was very irritating to one who longed to finish, 
in his own fashion, an undertaking that had, so 
far, been carried on with masterly diplomacy. 

The Seraph went with Angel, and it seemed 
a long hour indeed till I heard the longed-for 
footsteps hurrying up the stairs. The door was 
thrown open, and they burst in rosy and wind- 

"It's all right," announced Angel briskly. 
"He'll be there sharp at seven, and he's jolly 
glad that we're to be there too !" 

"And did you tell him?" I asked rather plain- 
tively, "that I had done the whole thing?" 

"Course I did." 

"What did he say when you told him he was 
to come home?" 

"He slapped his leg — " Angel gave his own 
leg a vigorous slap in illustration — "and said — 
*once aboard the lugger, and the girl is mine!' " 

It was a fascinating and cryptic utterance. We 
all tried it on varying notes of exultation. It 
put zest into what otherwise would have been a 
dragging day. By tea-time our legs were sore 
with whacking. 

Came the hour at last. We set out holding 
each other by moist clean hands, an admonish- 
ing Mrs. Handsomebody on the door-sill. 

Our hearts were high with excitement when 

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D*ye Ken John Peel? 

we were shown ceremoniously into the Bishop's 
library, where he and Margery were sitting in 
the dancing firelight. We loved the dark- 
panelled room where we were always made so 
happy. At Mrs. Handsomebody's we could 
never do anything right, mugs of milk had a spite- 
ful way of tilting over on the table-cloth without 
ever having been touched, but we could handle 
the things in the Chinese cabinet here or play 
carpet ball on the rug in the most seemly fashion. 

No one could tell stories like the Bishop, and 
after we had played for a bit, and The Seraph 
had demonstrated, on the hearthrugj, how ^e 
could turn a somersault, some one suggested a 

I often thought it a pity that those, who only 
heard the Bishop preach, should never know how 
his great talents were wasted in that role. It 
took the "Arabian Nights" to bring out the deep 
thrill of his sonorous voice, and his power of fil- 
ling the human heart with delicious fear. 

Now we perched about him listening with rapt 
eyes to the tale of Ali Baba. We wished there 
were more women like the faithful Morgiana with 
her pot of boiling oil. The Seraph, especially, 
revelled in the thought of those poor devils of 
thieves, each simmering away in his own jar. 

There fell a silence when the story was 
finished, and I was just casting about in my mind 


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for the next one I should beg, when, Angel, look- 
ing at the clock, suddenly asked: 

"Bishop, will you sing? Will you please sing 
us a nice old song 'stead of a story? Sing *John 
Peel,' won't you?" 

"Please sing 'John Peel' 1" echoed The Seraph. 

The Bishop seemed loath to sing "John Peel." 
It was years since he had sung it, he said; he had 
almost forgotten the words. But when Mar- 
gery joined her persuasions to ours, he con- 
sented to sing just one verse and the chorus. So 
he sang (but rather softly) ; 

"D'ye ken John Peel, with his coat so grey? 

D'ye ken John Peel, at the break of day? 
D'ye ken John Peel, when he's far, far away, 

With fais hounds and his horn in the morning?'' 

Before he had time to begin the chorus, it was 
taken up by a mellow baritone voice in the hall. 
K began softly too, but when it reached the 
"View halloo," it rang boldly. 

"For the sound of his hom brought me from my bed, 
And the cry of his hounds, which he oft-times led, 

Peel's 'View halloo!' would awaken the dead, 
Or the fox from his lair in the morning." 

The Bishop never moved a muscle till the last 
note died away, then he shook us off him, took 
three strides to the door, and swept the curtains 


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D'ye Ken John Feelf 

back. Harry stood in the doorway with a rather 
shame-faced smile. 

"Good Godl" exclaimed the Bishop. 
**Harry!" Then he put his arms around him 
and kissed him. 

I threw a triumphant glance at Margery. It 
hadn't hurt the Bishop at all to forgive Harry. 

"It was all the doing of these kids," Harry 
was saying, "if they hadn't cleared the way, I'd 
never have dared. John engineered everything. 
As a diplomat he's a pocket marvel." 

He and Margery gave each other a very funny 
look. I should like to have heard their later 

"They're good boys," said the Bishop, with 
an arm still around Harry, "capital boys, and 
if their governess will let them come to dinner 
tomorrow we'll have a sort of party, and talk 
everything over. I think cook would make a 
blackberry pudding. Will you arrange it Mar- 
gery? Just now I want — " He said no more, 
but he and Harry gripped hands. 

Margery herded us gently into the hall, and 
gave us each two chocolate bars. 

Going home under the first pale stars, we were 
three rollicking blades indeed. We no longer 
held hands, but we hooked arms, and swaggered 
and we did not ring the bell till the last vestige of 
chocolate was gone. 


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As we waited for Mary Ellen, I said, suddenly 
to Angel: 

"Angel, what made you ask the Bishop to sing 
'John Peer? Did you know Harry was going 
to sing in the hall?" 

"Oh, Harry and I fixed that up this morning," 
replied my senior, airily. "I kept it to myself, 
'cos I didn't want any interference, see?" 

Mary Ellen, opening the door at this moment, 
prevented a scuffle, though I was in too happy a 
mood to quarrel with any one. 

Mrs. Handsomebody was surprisingly civil 
about our visit. She showed great interest in 
the return of the Bishop's only son. Was he a 
nice young man? she asked. Was he nice-look- 
ing? Did the Bishop appear to be overjoyed to 
see him? 

We three were seated on three stiff-backed 
chairs, our backs to the wall. Angel and I told 
her as much as was good for her to know of the 

The Seraph felt that he was being ignored, 
so when a pause came, he remarked in that 
throaty little voice of his: 

"It's a vewy bad fing to be boiled in oil." 

"What's that?" snapped Mrs. Handsome- 
body. "Say that again!" 

"It's a vewy bad fing to be boiled in oil," re- 
iterated The Seraph suavely, "thirty-nine of 'em 


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D'ye Ken John Peel? 

there was — for the captain was stabbed alweady 
— ^boilin' away in oil. Their ears was full of it'* 

Mrs. Handsomebody gripped the arms of her 
chair, and leaned towards him. 

"Alexander, I have never known a child of 
such tender years to possess so unquenchable a lust 
for frightfulness. It must be eradicated at all 

The Seraph stood, then, balancing himself on 
the rung of his chair, 

" *Once aboard the lugger,' " he sang out, slap- 
ping his plump little thigh, " 'and the gell is 
mine I 

Mrs. Handsomebody sank back in her chair. 
She said: 

"This is appalling. David — ^John — take your 
little brother to bed instantly! Take him out 
of my hearing." 

Angel and I each grasped an arm of the reluc- 
tant infant and dragged him from the room. He 
stamped up the stairway between us, with an air 
of stubborn jollity. 

When we had reached the top, he loosed him- 
self from me and put his head over the hand- 

" 'John Peel's View Halloo I would waken the 
dead' — " he roared down into the hall. 

But he got no further. Between us we hustled 
him into the bedroom, and shut the door. Angel 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

and I leaned against it, then, in helpless laughter. 

In a moment I felt my arm squeezed by Angel, 
who was pointing ecstatically toward the bed. 

There, by the bedside, his dimpled hands 
folded, his curly head meekly bent, knelt The 

He was sajring his prayers. 



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Chapter VII: Granfa 

At Mrs. Handsomebody's on a Sunday morn- 
ing Angel and I had an egg divided between us, 
after our porridge. It was boiled rather hard 
so that it might not run, and we watched the 
cutting of it jealously. The Seraph's infant or- 
gans were supposed not to be strong enough to 
cope with even half an egg, so he must needs 
satisfy himself with the cap from Mrs. Hand- 
somebody's; and he made the pleasure endure 
by the most minute nibbling, filling up the gaps 
with large mouthfuls of toast. 

It was at a Sunday morning breakfast that 
Mrs. Handsomebody broached the subject of fish- 
ing. Angel and I had just scraped the last 
vestige of rubbery white from our half shells, 
and, having reversed them in our egg-cups, were 
gazing wistuUy at what appeared to be two un- 
chipped eggs, when she spoke. 

"You have been invited by Bishop Torrance 
to go on a fishing excursion with him tomorrow, 
and I have consented; provided, of course, that 

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your conduct today be most exemplary. What 
do you say? Thanks would not be amiss." 

Angel and I mumbled thanks, though we were 
well nigh speechless with astonishment and joy. 
The Seraph bolted his cherished bit of egg whole 
and said in his polite little voice : 

"He's a vewy nice man to take us fishin'. I 
wonder what made him do it." 

"I have never pretended," returned Mrs. 
Handsomebody, stiffly, "to account for the 
vagaries of the male. Yet I grant you it seems 
singular that a dignitary of the church should 
find pleasure! in such a project, in company with 
three growing boys." 

"If it had been any one but the Bishop," she 
went on, "I should have refused, for there are 
untold possibilities of danger in trout fishing. 
You must, for example, guard against imbed- 
ding the fish hook in the flesh, which is most pain- 
ful, often leading to blood-poisoning. This is 
to say nothing of the risk in sitting on damp 
grass, or the stings of insects." 

"Did you ever sit on the sting of an insect, 
please?" questioned The Seraph eagerly. 

Mrs. Handsomebody looked at him sharply. 
"One more question of that character," she said, 
"and you will remain at home." Then, glanc- 
iing around the table, she went on — "Whati! 
your eggs gone so soon? We shall give thanks 


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then. Alexander" — to The Seraph — "It is your 
turn to say grace. Proceed." 

The Seraph, with folded hands and bent head, 
repeated glibly: 

"Accept our thanks, O Lord, for these Thy 
good cweatures given to our use, and by them 
fit us for Thy service. Amen." 

There was a scraping of chairs, and we got to 
our feet. The Seraph, holding his bit of egg 
shell in his warm little palm asked; — "Is an egg a 
cweature, yet?" 

Mrs. Handsomebody gloomed down at him 
from her height. "I say it in all solemnity, 
Alexander, the natural bent of your mind is to- 
ward the ribald and cynical. I do what I can 
to curb it, but I fear for your future." And 
she swept from the room. 

Eagerly we took our places in the choir stalls 
that morning. 

The May sunshine had taken on the mellowness 
of summer, and it struck fire from the sacred 
vessels on the altar, and the brazen-winged eagle 
of the lectern. Strange-shaped patterns of wine- 
colour and violet were cast from the stained glass 
windows upon the walls and pillars, enriching the 
grey fabric of the church, like tropic flowers. 
The window nearest me was a favourite of ours. 
It was dedicated, so saith the bronze tablet be- 
neath, to the memory of Cosmo John, fifth son 


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of an Earl of Aberfalden. He had died at the 
age of fifteen, not a tender age to me, but the age 
toward which I was eagerly straining, the vigour- 
ous, untrammelled age of the big boy. 

I stared at the young knight in the red cloak 
who, to me, represented Cosmo John, and thought 
it a great pity that he should have gone off in 
such a hurry, just when life was opening up such 
happy vistas before him, vistas no longer pa- 
trolled by governesses and maid servants, nor 
hedged in by petty restrictions. Cosmo John had 
died one hundred years ago, in May — and, by the 
Roodl this was May! Had he ever been 
a-fishing. Had the sudden tremor of the rod 
made his young heart to leap? I heard the 
Bishop's rich voice roll on: 

" — Most heartily we beseech Thee with Thy 
favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign 
Lady, Queen Victoria; and so replenish her with 
the grace of Thy Holy Spirit that she may alway 
incline to Thy will" — the Bishop's voice became 
one with the murmur of the river, as it moved 
among! the ridges; the mellow sunlight scarcely 
touched this sheltered pool, but one could see it 
in its full strength on the meadow beyond, where 
larks were nesting. I brought myself up with a 
start. The Bishop's voice came from a great dis- 
tance — "beseech Thee to bless Albert Edward 

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Prince of Wales" — ^Angcl was joggling me with 
his elbow. 

"You duffer," he whispered, "youVe been nod- 
ding. Get your hymn book." 

In the choir vestry the Bishop stopped for a 
moment beside us, his surplice billowing about him 
like the sails about a tall mast when the wind dies. 
"At seven," he said, "tomorrow morning at my 
house. And wear old clothes/^ 

The sails were filled, and he moved majestically 
away, towering above the small craft around him. 


It was morning. It was ten o'clock. It was 
May. We were all stowed away in the Bishop's 
trap with his son, Harry, controlling the fat pony, 
*whose small fore-hoof pawed! impatiently on the 
asphalt. Angel and I had donned old jerseys and 
The Seraph a clean hoUand pinafore, against 
which he pressed an empty treacle tin where a 
solitary worm reared an anxious head against the 
encircling gloom. 

"I've got a worm," he gasped, gleefully, as the 
pony, released at last, jerked us almost off our 
seats. "He's nice an' fat, an' he's quite clean, 
for I've washed him fwee times. He's as tame 
as anyfing. He's wather a dear ole worm, an' it 
seems a shame to wun a hook frew him." 

"Child, it shall not be done," consoled the 


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Bishop. "Keep your worm, and, when we get to 
the river-bank, we'll introduce him to the country 
worms, and maybe he'll like them so well he'll 
marry and settle down there for the rest of his 

"If he could see a lady-worm he'd like," stipu- 
lated The Seraph. 

"He'd have a wide choice," said the Bishop. 
"The country is full of worms, some of them 
charming, I daresay." 

"And, I say," chuckled Angel, "you could per- 
form the ceremony — if only we knew their 

"This is Charles Augustus," said The Seraph 
with dignity. 

"She'd likely be Ernestine," I put in. 

"Very well," said the Bishop. "It should pro- 
ceed thus: 'I, Charles Augustus, take thee, 
Ernestine, to have and to hold' — and I do wish, 
Harry, that you'd have a care and hold Merry- 
legs in. He's almost taking our breath away. 
Such a speed is undignified, and bad for the diges- 

It was true that the fat pony was in amazing 
spirits that morning. Shops and houses were 
passed with exhilarating speed. To us little 
fellows, who always walked with our governess, 
when we went abroad, it was intoxicating. 

Soon the town was left behind and we were 

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bowling along a country road past a field where 
boys were flying a kite, its long tail making sinuous 
curves against the turquoise sky. The air was 
sweet with the fresh May showers; and the swift 
roll of wheels was an inspiring accompaniment to 
our chatter. 

Further along lay a tranquil pond in a common, 
its surface stirred by a tiny boat with white sails. 
An old, white-bearded man in a smock frock was 
teaching his grandsons to sail the boat. It must 
be jolly, we thought, to have a nice old grand- 
father to play with one. 

At last we passed a vine-embowered inn, set 
among apple trees in bloom. It was "The Sleepy 
Angler" and the Bishop said that the river curved 
just beyond it. 

We gave a shout of joy as we caught the glint 
of it; a shout that might well have been a warning 
to any lurking trout. Angel and I scarcely waited 
for the pony to draw up beneath the trees before 
we tumbled out of the trap; and the Bishop, 
grasping the eager Seraph by the wrist, swung him 
to the ground after us. 

We felt very small and light, and almost fairy- 
like, as we ran here and thither over the lush 
grass, studded with spring flowers. Our sensitive 
nostrils were greeted by enticing new odors that 
seemed to be pressed from the springy sod of our 
scampering feet. The Seraph still clutched the 


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treacle tin, and Charles Augustus must have had 
a bad quarter hour of it. 

The stream, which was a sharp, clear one, sped 
through flowery meadows, where geese were graz- 
ing as soberly as cows. An old orchard enfolded 
it, at last, scattering pink petals on its flowing 
cloud^flecked surface, and drawing new life from 
its freshness. 

Harry made the pony comfortable and lit his 
pipe, and the Bishop got ready his tackle, while 
the three of us clustered about him, filled with 
wonder and delight to see the book of many 
coloured flies, and all the intricacies of preparing 
the rod and bait. Angel and I were equipped 
with proper rods baited with greenish May-flies, 
and The Seraph got a willow wand and line at 
the end of which dangled an active grasshopper. 

"You know," said the Bishop, when we had 
cast our flies, "if I were a whole-hearted angler, 
I should not have brought three such restless 
spirits on this expedition but truly I am — 

*No fisher, 

But a well-wisher 

To the gamel' 

So, now that you are here, suppose I give you a 
lesson in manipulating your tackling. If you pro- 
ceed as you have begun, there will very soon not 


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be so much as a minnow within a mile of us. 
Easy now, Angel ; just move your fly gently on top 
of the water so that his bright wings may attract 
the eye of the most wanton trout. Easy, John — 
by the lord, IVe caught a GreylingI And come 
and sniff him, and you'll find he smells of water- 

How aptly we took to this sort of teaching, 
given in the fresh outdoors, the air pleasant with 
honeysuckle, and a lark carolling high above usl 
We could scarcely restrain our shouts when 
Angel's first; trout was landed with the aid of a 
net, and lay golden and white as a daffodil on the 
grass. So absorbed were we that no one gave 
any heed to The Seraph, stationed farther down 
stream, till a roar of rage discovered him, dancing 
empty-handed on the bank, his rod sailing smartly 
down the stream, leaving only a wake of tiny 

"It was a 'normous lusty trout," he wailed, "as 
big as a whale, an' he swallowed my grasshopper, 
an' hook, an' gave me such a look I And I'd 
pwomised him to Mary Ellen for her tea I" 

"We may as well give up for a while," said 
the Bishop, mildly, "and have some lunch. Bring 
The Seraph to me, boys, and I shall comfort him, 
whilst you unpack the hamper." 

What hearty, wholesome appetites we brought 
to the cold beef and radishes I And how much 


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more satisfying such fare than the milky messes 
served to us by Mrs. Handsomebody I Harry 
had buried a bottle of ale under the cool sod, and 
we had tastes of that to wash our victuals down. 
Even Charles Augustus had a little of it poured 
into his cell to comfort him. 

When we were satisfied, the Bishop retired to 
the shade of a hedge with his pipe; The Seraph 
wandered oflf by himself to hunt for birds' nests; 
and Angel and I took fresh flies and tried our 
luck anew. But the sun was high; the south 
breeze was fallen ; and the trout had sought their 
farthest chambers in the pool. 

Angel soon tired when sport flagged. 

"Let's go find the kid," he said, throwing down 
the rod, "he'll be getting himself drowned if we 
don't keep an eye on him. I'll race you to that 
nearest apple tree 1" 

With nimble legs, and swiftly beating hearts, 
we scampered over the smooth turf, and I threw 
a triumphant look over my shoulder at him, as I 
hurled myself upon the mossy bole of the old tree. 
Then I saw that Angel had stopped stock still and 
was staring open-mouthed beyond me. I turned. 
Then, I, too, stared open-mouthed. Trust The 
Seraph for falling on his feet I What though his 
rod had been filched — here he was, without a 
moment's loss, plunged in a new adventure I 


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He was seated beneath an apple tree, on the 
bank of the stream in deep conversation with a 
most remarkable old man, who was fishing indus- 
triously with the very rod The Seraph so lately 
had bewailed. He was an astonishingly old man, 
with hair and beard as white as wool, wreathing 
a face as pink as the apple-blossoms that fell about 
him. Cautiously we drew near, quite unobserved 
by the two who seemed utterly absorbed in their 
occupation of watching the line as it dipped into 
the stream. Now we could see that the old man's 
clothes were ragged, and that he had taken off 
his boots to ease his tired feet, the toes of which 
protruded from his socks, even pinker than his 

He was speaking in a full soft voice with an ac- 
cent which was new to us. 

"Yon trout," said he, "was in a terrible frizz 
wi' the hook gnawing his vitals, and he swum 
about among the reeds near the bank in a manner 
to harrer your feelings. The line got tangled in 
the growing stuff, and I, so quick as an otter, 
pounced on him, and had him on the bank afore 
'ee could say *scat,' and there he lies breathing his 
last, and blessing me no doubt for relieving him 
in his shameful state." 


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"I fink he's weally my twout," said The Seraph. 
"I caught him first you see." 

"That pint might take a terr'ble understanding 
lawyer to unravel," replied the old man, **but 
sooner than quarrel in such an unsporting fashion, 
rU give 'ee the trout, though I had had a notion 
of roasting him to my own breakfast." 

The Seraph stroked the glistening side of the 
recumbent trout admiringly; he poked his plump 
forefinger into it's quivering pink gill. The re- 
sult was startling. The trout leaped into the air 
with a flourish of silvery tail; then fell floundering 
on The Seraph's bare knees. Our junior, seized 
with one of his unaccountable impulses, grasped 
him by the middle and hurled him into the stream. 
A second more and the trout was gone, leaving 
only a thin line of red to mark his passing. Angel 
and I ran forward to protect The Seraph if need 
be from the consequences of his hardy act; but the 
old man was smiling placidly. 

'*That trout," he said, **is so gleeful to get away 
from his captivity as I be to escape from the 

**Oh, did you run away from the workhouse?" 
we cried, in chorus, gathering around him, 
**Have you run far?" And we looked at his 
broken boots. 

"I ban't a dareful man," he replied, "that 
would run down the road in daylight for the whole 


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nation to see, and I be terr'ble weak in the legs, 
so I just crept out in the night, so quiet as a star- 
beam, and sheltered in the orchard yonder, till I 
seed the rod fairly put in my hand by the 
Almighty, that I mid strike manna out of the 
stream, like old Moses, so to speak." 

"You're a funny man," said Angel. '*YouVe 
a rum way of talking." 

"I come from Devon by natur," he answered, 
"and my tongue still has the twist o't though I 
haven't seed the moors these sixty years." 

"You must be pretty old." 

"Old I I be so aged that I can remember my 
grandmother when she was but a rosy-cheeked 
slip of a gal." 

We stared in awe before such antiquity. 

The Seraph ventured: "Did your grand- 
mother put you in the work'us?" 

"No, no. Not she. It was my two grandsons. 
Well-fixed men they be too, for Philip had a fine 
cow until the bailiff took her ; and Zachary thinks 
naught on a Fair day o' buying meat pasties for 
hisself and his missus, and parading about before 
the nation wi' the gravy fair running down their 
wrists. Ay — ^but the work'us was good enough 
for old Granfa. *Dam'ee,' says I to Philip, 
'there's life in the old dog yet, and I'll escape 
from here in the fulness of time I' Which I did." 

We grouped ourselves about him in easy atti- 


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tudes of attention. We felt strangely drawn to 
this ancient rebel against authority. We pictured 
the workhouse as a vast schoolroom where white- 
haired paupers laboured over impossible tasks, 
superintended by a matron, cold and angular, like 
Mrs. Handsomebody. 

"Are your own children all dead?" I put the 
question timidly, for I feared to recall more filial 

"Dead as door-nails," he replied, solemnly. 
"All of them." 

"Were there many?" 

"When I had been married but seven years, 
there were six; and after that I lost count. At 
that time I was moved to compose a little song 
about them, and I'd sing it to 'ee this moment if 
I had a bite o' victuals to stay me." 

"Look here. Seraph," I cried, "You cut back 
to the hamper and fetch some beef and bread, 
and anything else that's loose. Look sharp, 

The Seraph ran off obediently, and it was not 
long till he re-appeared with food and the dregs 
of the ale. 

It was a treat to see Granfa make way with 
these. He smacked his lips and wiped his beard 
on his sleeve with the relish born of prolonged 
abstinence. As he ate, the apple-blossoms fell 
about him, settling on the rim of his ragged hat, 

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and even finding shelter among the white waves 
of his beard. We sat cross-legged on the grass 
before him eagerly awaiting the song. 

At last, in a voice rich with emotion, he sang 
to a strange lilting tune: 

"I be in a terr'ble fix, 
Wife have I and childer six. 

"I'd got married just for fun, 
When in popped Baby Number one — 

'I'd got an easy job to do. 

When in strolled Baby Number Two— 

"I was fishin' in the sea, 

When up swum Baby Number Three — 

"My boat had scarcely touched the shore. 
When in dumb Baby Number Fourl 

"I was the scaredest man alive, 
When wife found Baby Number Five. 

"The cradle was all broke to sticks 
When in blew Baby Number Six — 

"And now I'm praying hard that Heaven 
Will keep a grip on Number Seven." 

"And did Heaven keep a gwip on it?" in- 
quired The Seraph as soon as the last notes died 


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"Not a bit of it," responded our friend. 
"They come along so fast that I was all in a miz- 
maze trying to keep track on 'em. And good 
childer they was, and would never have turned 
me out as their sons have had the stinkin' im- 
pidence to do. But now, souls, tell me all about 
yourselves, for I be a terr'ble perusin' man and 
I like to ponder on the doings of my fellow- 
creatures. Did you mention the name of a par- 
son, over by yon honey-suckle hedge?" 

We thought the old man was excellent ; and we 
found it an easy thing to make a confidant of him. 
So, while he puffed at a stubby clay pipe, we drew 
closer and told him all about the Bishop and 
about father and how lonely we were for him. 
Blue smoke from his clay pipe spun about us, seem- 
ing to bind us lightly in a fine web of friendship. 
Through it his blue eyes shone longingly, his 
pink face shone with sympathy, and his white 
beard with its clinging apple-blossom petals, rose 
and fell on his ragged breast. 

"It's a great pity," said Angel, *'that father 
isn't here now, because I'm certain he'd be jolly 
glad to adopt you for a grandfather for us. He's 
a most reasonable man." 

Our new friend shook his head doubtfully. 

"It would be a noble calling," he said, "but I 
ban't wanted by nobody I'm afeard. I think I'll 
just bide here by this pleasant stream, till in the 

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fulness of time I be food for worms." 

"Could Charles Augustus have a little of you?" 
asked The Seraph, sweetly. 

"Ess Fay, he may have his share." It ap- 
peared that the story of Charles had been told 
before Angel and I had arrived. 

"Well, you're not going to be deserted," said 
Angel, in his lordly way, "we'll just adopt you on 
our own. Mrs. Handsomebody won't let us have 
a dog, nor a guinea pig, nor rabbits, nor even a 
white rat, but, you bet, she's got to let us keep 
a grandfather, if we take him right home and 
say he's come for a visit, and, of course, father'U 
have to pay for his board. Let's do it, eh John?" 

When Angel's eyes sparkled with a conquer- 
ing light, few could resist him. Certainly not 
I, his faithful adherent. Anyway I wanted 
Granfa myself badly, so I nodded solemnly. 

"It'll be the greatest lark ever," he said, "and 
here comes the Bishop." 

"Hand me my shoon, quick," said Granfa, ner- 

The Bishop was indeed coming slowly toward 
us, across the sun-lit meadow, carrying his rod 
in one hand, and in the other the tin containing 
Charles Augustus. By the time he had reached 
us Granfa had struggled into his boots and was 
standing, hat in hand, with an air of meek ex- 

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"Child, it shall not be done," consoled the 
pectancy. Angel, always so fluent when we were 
by ourselves, balked at explaining things to grown- 
ups, and, though the Bishop usually saw things 
from our point of view, one could never be ab- 
solutely certain that even he would not prove 
obtuse on such a delicate issue as this. 

So I rose, and met his enquiring look with such 
explanation as suited his adult understanding. 

"Please, sir," I said, politely, "this nice old 
man has been turned out by his grandsons, and 
he's on his way to town, where he's got some 
kind grandsons — " 

— "Fwee of 'em," put in The Seraph. 

— "And we were wondering," I hurried on, "if 
you'd give him a lift that far." 

"I expect you're tired out," said the Bishop, 
kindly, turning to Granfa. 

"I be none too peart, but terrible wishful to get 
under the roof o' my grandsons, thank 'ee." 

"You shall have a seat beside Harry; I see 
you've had some lunch; and now, boys, I think 
we have time for an hour's fishing before we go, 
but first we must dispose of Charles Augustus. 
I don't like the way he looks. I don't know 
whether he's just foxy and pretending he's dead 
so we shan't use him for bait, or whether the ale 
was too much for him. Ati any rate, he's look- 
ing far from well." And the Bishop peered anx- 
iously into the treacle tin. 

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So the search began for the ideal mate for 
Charles Augustus. He was laid in state on a 
large burdock leaf, where he stretched himself 
warily enough in the fervent heat of the sun. 
The Seraph, quick as a robin, was the first to 
pounce upon a large, but active dew-worm, which, 
he announced, was Ernestine. 

We made an excited little group around the 
burdock, as The Seraph, flushed with pride, de- 
posited her beside the lonely Charles. She 
glided toward him. She touched him. The 
effect was electrical. Charles Augustus, after 
one violent contortion, hurled himself from the 
burdock, and, before we could intercept him, dis- 
appeared into a bristling forest of grass blades. 

"He's gone 1 He's gone I" wailed The Seraph. 
"He's wun away fwom herl" 

But, even as he spoke, the agile Ernestine 
leapt lightly from the trembling leaf in hot pur- 
suit. Green spears bent to open a way for her; 
dizzy gnats paused in their droning song, feeling 
in the ether the tremor if the chase; bees fell 
from the heart of honey-sweet flowers, and lay 
murmuring and booming in the grass. 

They were gone. An ant had mounted the 
burdock leaf, and, careless of the drama that had 
just been enacted, sought eagerly among the 
crevices for provender. The Bishop spoke first. 

"I think she'll get him," he said musingly. 


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"She's got a sort of cave-woman look, and she 
has no petticoats to impede her." 

"Ess fay," assented Granfa, "her'II get him, 
and hold him fast too, I'll be bound. A terr'ble 
powerful worm." 

We stood in silence for a space, our eyes fixed 
on the ground picturing that chase through dim 
subterranean passages, smelling of spring show- 
ers; Charles Augustus, wasted, febrile, panting 
with agitation; Ernstine, lithe, ardent, awful in 
her purpose. 

We were still pensive when we retraced our 
steps across the meadow. The Bishop and 
Harry and The Seraph resumed their fishing, 
but Angel and I preferred to be on the grass beside 
Granfa, while he told us tales of old smuggling 
days in Devon and Cornwall, where his little cut- 
ter had slipped round about the delicate yet rug- 
ged coast, loaded with brandy and bales of silk 
from France, guided by strange red and blue 
lights from the shore; and where solemn cormo- 
rants kept darkly secret all they saw when they 
sailed aloft at dawn. 


We were delighted with Granfa. It seemed 
to us that the acquiring of him was the fin- 
est thing we had yet done. This elation of 
spirit remained with us during all the drive home. 

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Gran fa 

The grey old town was wrapped in a golden mist 
of romance; its windows reflected the fire of the 
sunset. It was not until we had separated from 
the Bishop and stood, a group of four, before 
Mrs. Handsomebody's house, that dread misgiv- 
ing took the pith out of our legs. All of a sudden 
Granfa loomed bulky and solid; the problem of 
where he was to be stowed presented itself. He 
was not like Giftie to be hidden in the scullery. 
He was not even like a white rat that could 
be secreted under one's bed till its unfortunate 
odour resulted in painful research. No; Granfa 
must be accounted for, and that soon. 

"Better go round to the back," suggested 
Angel, "and tackle Mary Ellen first." 

So we traversed the chill passage between the 
tall houses, and softly lifted the latch of the 
kitchen door. Mary Ellen was alone, her work 
done, her nose buried in a novel of such fine print 
that it necessitated the lamp's being perilously 
near the fringe of frowsy hair that covered her 
forehead. We were inside the kitchen before she 
was recalled from the high life in which she 

"Is it yersilves?" she exclaimed, with a start. 
"Sure, you've give me a nice fright prowlin' about 
like thaves — and whoiver may be the ould man 
wid ye? The mistress'U stand no tramps or 
beggars about, as well you know." 

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"He's no tramp or beggar," I retorted, stoutly, 
"he's Granfa." 

"Granfal Granfa who? Noan o' your non- 
sense, now, byes. What's the truth now, spit it 
out I" 

"He's Granfa," I reiterated, desperately, "Our 
own nice grandfather that we haven't seen for 
years, and — ^he's just come for a nice little visit 
with us. Why, Mary Ellen, the Bishop knows 

"Known him for years," put in Angel. "Went 
to Harrow together." 

"Ess fay," assented Granfa, eagerly. "Us 
were boon companions up to Harrer." 

"The Bishop brought him wight here in the 
pony twap," added The Seraph, "and we'd all yike 
a little nushment, please." 

Mary Ellen, in spite of herself, was half con- 
vinced. Granfa's blue eyes were so candid; there 
was an air of dignity about his snow-white locks 
and beard, that disarmed hostility. 

"Look here, now," said Mary Ellen, in an 
aside, to us, "he seems a nice ould gentlemin 
enough, but think av the throuble ye got us in over 
Giftie, sure I won't have yez experimentalling wid 

Granfa appeared to have overheard, for he 
spoke up. 

"I just want to bide here a little while, my 

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dearie, till I hear from my son in South Americer. 
The other two put me out, you see, so I've only 
him to depend on, till I be called away." 

Mary Ellen flushed. "You'd be welcome to 
stay if it was my house, sir; but my misthress is 
to be reckoned wid. By God's mercy, she is off 
to a missionary meeting tonight, her bein' presi- 
dent av the society for makin' Unitarians out av 
the blacks. Sorra a thing will she hear of this 
till momin', and I'll put you in my own bed, and 
slape on two cheers in the scullery, for it'd niver 
do for the boys' grandfather to be used like a 

We thought it a capital idea for Mary Ellen to 
sleep in the scullery — it would save her the fag of 
running downstairs in the morning to get break- 
fast, and Granfa would be conveniently placed for 
us, in case we wanted a story or game before 

So, after partaking of a little nourishment, as 
The Seraph put it, we retired to Mary Ellen's 
room; she leading the way up the dark backstairs 
with a lighted candle; Granfa next bearing his 
little bundle ; and we three in the rear, exceedingly 
tired, but in excellent spirits. 

Granfa looked very snug in Mary Ellen's bed, 
with his curly beard resting comfortably on the 
red and white quilt, and his blue eyes twinkling 
up at us. 


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"Comfy, Granfa?" asked The Seraph. 

"I be just so cozy as an old toad," he replied. 
"I do believe I'm a-going to be terr'ble happy in 
my new home." 

Mary Ellen had gone downstairs to prepare her 
place in the scullery, so we climbed on the bed 
with him, making believe it was a smuggler's cut- 
ter, and had many hair-raising adventures that 
were brought to an end, at last, by the discovery 
that Granf a was fast asleep. 

We were at the windlass heaving up the anchor, 
at the time, and had just struck up a sailor's 
chanty, which made a good deal of noise, but 
nothing seemed to disturb Granfa. He slum- 
bered peacefuly through all the rattle of chains, 
and shouting of commands, so, somewhat subdued, 
we decided there was nothing for it but to seek 
our berths. 

Snug beneath our covers, at last, we felt to the 
full, the new spirit of adventufe that had spread 
its irridescent wings over the house. There was 
Granfa, snoring under Mary Ellen's patchwork 
quilt; there was the trusty Mary Ellen, herself, 
stowed away in the scullery; there was Mrs. 
Handsomebody, on missionary duty among the 
blacks; here were we — ^The Seraph expressed our 
feelings exactly just before we fell asleep. 
"We'm tefr'ble lucky chaps," he said, in the 
Devon dialect, "ban't us?" 

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Our bedroom window was always tightly 
closed, and, at night, so were the shutters; yet 
a sunbeam, adventurous, like ourselves, found its 
way through a broken slat, and, cleaving the 
heavy air of the chamber, flew straight to The 
Seraph's nose, where it perched, lending a radiant 
prominence to that soft feature. 

The Seraph roused himself. He opened his 
eyes; the sunbeam found them two dark forest 
pools, and plunged therein. The Seraph opened 
his mouth and laughed, sho^ng all his little white 
teeth, and the sunbeam dived straightway down 
his throat. 

"Hurrah!" cried The Seraph, "let's get up!" 
And scrambled out of bed. 

At the same instant came a loud tapping on the 
door of Mary Ellen's bedroom. We surmised, 
correctly, that Mrs. Handsomebody, listening in 
vain for the sound of her handmaiden's descent 
of the back stairs had risen wrathfully, and 
come to summon her in perspn. A chill of ap- 
prehension ran along my spine. I got up and 
stole to the door, foUofwed by my brothers. 
Through a crack we peered fearfully in the 
direction of the rapping, our trembling bodies 
close together. 

Mrs. Handsomebody, in purple dressing-gown 

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and red woollen slippers, stood in a listening 
attitude, her gaze bent on the door that hid 

"Are you aware of the hour?" she demanded 
peremptorily. "Rise at once and open this 

There was a creaking of the mattress and 
sound of shuffling feet; the door was opened re- 
luctantly, and Granfa, bare-legged, white of 
beard and red-shirted, stood in the aperture. 

Mrs. Handsomebody did not shriek; rather 
she made the inarticulate noises of one in a night- 
mare and put out her hands as if to keep Granfa 
off. "Merciful Heaven I" she whispered. 
"What has happened to you?" 

"I do feel far from peart," replied Granfa. 

"This is horrible. Did you feel it coming on?" 

"Off and on for a long time," said Granfa. 
"It's been a terr'ble experience, and I ban't likely 
to be ever the same again, I'm af eared." 

Mrs. Handsomebody looked ready to faint. 

At that moment, Mary Ellen, having heard 
the voice of her mistress,, projected her face 
above the doorsill of the backstairs. It was al- 
ways a rosy face, but now with excitement and 
shamefacedness, it was as red as a harvest moon, 
coming up from the darkness. 

The sight of her turned Mrs. Handsomebody's 
terror* into rage. 


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"Shameful, depraved g?rl," she gobbled, "who 
is this you have in your chamber? Ah, I've 
caught you I The ingratitude I You terrible 
old wretch!" — this to Granfa — "close that door 
instantly while I send for the police 1" 

By this time we had ventured into the hall, 
and, Mrs. Handsomebody, seeing us groaned: 
"Under the roof with these innocent children — 
I thought that in my care their innocence was 

"It was thim same innocents that brung him 
here," said Mary Ellen, stung into disclosing our 
part in the scandal, "and it's himsilf is their own 

Mrs. Handsomebody's gaze was appalling as 
she turned it on us three. 

"You? Your grandfather? What fresh in- 
sanity is this?" 

"You see," I explained, keeping my fascinated 
eyes on the wart on her chm, "he's just 
come for a little visit, and he really is our Granfa, 
and we love him awfully." 

"Won't have him abused," spluttered The 

"Be rights," added Mary Ellen, solemnly, "he 
should have the best spare room, the byes' own 
aged relation." 

"I shall sift this affair," said Mrs. Handsome- 
body, "to its most appalling dregs. You, Alexan- 


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der" — to The Seraph — "are the smallest, look 
through that keyhole and inform me what he is 

The Seraph obeyed, chuckling. "He's took to 
the bed again — all exceptin' one leg — " 

"W^ can dispense with detail," cut in our 
governess. "Is he at all violent?" 

"Bless you, no," replied Mary Ellen. "He's 
as mild mannered as can be and an old friend 
of the Bishop's, so they say. 'Twas him that 
brung him home in his pony trap." 

"The Bishop I I must see the Bishop in- 

As she spoke a stentorian shout of "Butcher!" 
came from the repons below. 

"There," she said, to Mary Ellen, "is young 
Watlin. Call him up instantly; and he shall 
guard the door while I dress. Explain the situa- 
tion very briefly to him. It would be well to 
arm him with a poker, in case the old man be- 
comes violent. David, go to Bishop Torrance 
and tell him that I hope he will call on me at 
once, if possible. Put on your clothes, but you 
may leave your hair in disorder, just as it is. It 
will serve to show the Bishop into what a state of 
panic this household has been thrown." 

She was obliged to retire hastily to her room 
because of the arrival of Mr. Watlin. 

It was some time before Mary Ellen, and The 

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Seraph, and I could make him understand what 
had happened, though we all tried at once. 

"And you mean to tell me that he's in there?" 
he asked, at last, grinning broadly. 

"Sorra a place else," replied Mary Ellen, "and 
you're to guard the door till the police comes." 

"Guard nothink," said Mr. Watlin, belliger- 
ently, "I'll go right in and tackle him single- 

With one accord The Seraph and I flung our- 
selves before the door. 

"You shan't hurt him," we cried, "he's our 
own Granfa I We'll fight you first." 

Mr. Watlin made some playful passes at our 
stomachs. "Let's all have a fight," he chaffed. 
Then he said — "Hullo, here's the old 'un him- 
self, and quite a character to be sure. No won- 
der Mrs. 'Andsomebody is in a taking." 

The door had opened behind us; Granfa stood 
revealed, wearing his ragged coat and hat, and 
carrying his stick and little bundle, wrapped in a 
red handkerchief. 

"Don't 'ee get in a frizz, my dears, about me," 
he said with dignity. "I be leaving this instant 
moment. As for you — " addressing Mr. Wat- 
lin — "you be a gert beefy critter, but don't be 
too sure you could tackle me, single-handed. I 
be terr'ble full of power when I'm roused, and 
It takes a deal to calm me down again." And 


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he trotted to the head of the stairs and began to 

The Seraph and I kept close on either side of 
him, tightly holding his hands. 

"She's in the! parlour," I whispered, "and the 
Bishop's with her. Shall you go in?" 

Gran fa nodded solemnly. 

We stood in the doorway of the sacred apart- 
ment. Even there, the spirit of the May morn- 
ing seemed to have penetrated, for in the glass 
case a stuffed oriole had cocked his eye with a 
longing look at a withered nest that hung before 

Mrs. Handsomebody had just finished her re- 
cital. "I thought I should have swooned," she 

"And no wonder," replied the Bishop, "I'm 
quite sure I should have." Then he turned to us 
with a look of mingled amusement and concern. 
"Now what do you suppose I'm going to do with 
you Granfa?" 

"Oh, parson, don't 'ee send me back to the 
work'us ! If I bide there any longer, 'twill break 
my fine spirit." 

"I am going to propose something very dif- 
ferent," said the Bishop, kindly. "We need an- 
other sweeper and duster about the Cathedral, 
and if you think you are strong enough to wield 
a broom, you may earn a decent living. I know 


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a very kind charwoman, who would lodge and 
board you, and you would be near your little — " 

"Gwandsons," said The Seraph. 

"Silence!" ordered Mrs. Handsomebody. 

"You would be near us all," finished the Bishop, 

"Ess fay. I can wield a broom," said Granfa. 
"And 'twill be a noble end for me to pass my 
days in such a holy spot. 'Twill be but a short 
jump from there fair into Heaven itself, and I 
do thank 'ee, parson, with all my heart." 

So it was settled, and turned out excellently. 
Even Mary Ellen could have learned from Granfa 
new ways of handling a broom with the least exer- 
tion to the worker; aye, in his hands, the broom 
seemed used chiefly as a support; a staff, upon 
which he leant while telling us many a tale of 
those rare old smuggling days of his youth. 

Sometimes, in dim unused parts of the build- 
ing, we would rig up a pirate's ship, and Granfa 
would fix the broom to the masthead to show 
that he, like Drake, had swept the seas. 

Sometimes, indeed, we found him fast asleep 
in a comer of some crimson-cushioned pew, look- 
ing so peaceful that, rough sea-going fellows 
though we were, we had not the heart to rouse 

Once, standing before the stained glass window 
in memory of young Cosmo John, Granfa said: 


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"It beats all how thiccy lad does yearn toward 
me. His eyes follow me wherever I go." 

"And no wonder, Granfa," cried The Seraph, 
throwing his arms around him, "for everybody 
loves 'ee sol" 



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Chapter VIII: Noblesse 

Angel and I grew amazingly (that summjef. 
We grew in length of limb but with no cor- 
responding gain in scholastic stature. We had 
made up our minds to retain as little as possible 
of Mrs. Handsomebody's teaching and we had 
succeeded so well in our purpose, that, at nine 
and ten we had about as much book-learning as 
would have befitted The* Seraph, while he re- 
tained the serene ignorance of babyhood. But 
in affairs of the imagination we were no laggards. 
We eagerly drank in Granfa's tales of the sea, 
and Harry lent us many a hair-raising book of 

Yet we longed for the companionship of other 
boys of our own age, and strained towards the 
day when we should go to school. Our abound- 
ing energy chafed more and more under the rule 
of Mrs. Handsomebody. 

Now she had left the school-room to inter- 
view a plumber, and her black bombazine dress 
having sailed away like a cloud, we had utterly 

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relaxed, and were basking in the sunshine of her 

Slumped on my spine, I was watching a spider, 
just over my head, that was leisurely ascending 
his shining rope-ladder to the ceiling. T con- 
templated his powers of retreat with an almost 
bitter envy. Fancy being able, at a moment's 
notice, to bolt out of reach (even out of sight 
and hearing) of all that was^ obnoxious to a 
fellow I I pictured myself, when some particu- 
larly harassing question had been put by my 
governess, springing from my seat, snatching the 
ever-ready shining rope and making for some 
friendly cornice, where, with my six or eig^t legs 
wrapped round my head, I would settle down for 
a snug sleep, not to be disturbed by any female. 

Yet, I had to admit, that if any one in the 
schoolroom played the role of spider, it was 
Mrs. Handsomebody herself, whose desk was the 
centre of a web of books, pencils, rulers and a 
cane, in the meshes of which we three were caught 
like young flies, before our bright wings had been 

I looked at The Seraph. After slavishly mak- 
ing pot hooks all the afternoon, he was now lick- 
ing them off his slate with unaffected relish. I 
turned to Angel. 

With hands thrust deep in his pockets he was 

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Noblesse Oblige 

staring disconsolately at the unfinished sum be- 
fore him. I, too, had pven it up in despair. 

"It's mediocre," he muttered. "Absolutely 
mediocre, and I won't stand it." 

Mediocre. It was a new word to me, and I 
wondered where he had picked it up. It was 
like Angel to spring it on me this way. 

"Awfully mediocre," I assented. "And it 
can't be done." 

A flicker of annoyance crossed his face that 
his new word should be thus lightly bandied, but 
he went on — "Just listen here: an apple-woman 
who had four score of apples in her cart, sold 
three dozen at four pence, half-penny a dozen; 
two and a half dozen at five pence a dozen. At 
what price would she have to sell the remaining, 
in order to realize" — 

"And look here," I interrupted, wrathfuUy, 
"Why does she always give us sums about an 
apple-woman, or a muffin-man? It just makes 
a chap hungry. Why doesn't she make one up 
about a dentist for a change, or somethin' like 

"Yes," assented Angel, catching at the idea. 
"Like this : if a dentist pulled five teeth out of one 
lady, and seven and a half out of another, at 
two shillings apiece how many must he pull in 
order to — " 


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"Then there's undertakers," I broke in. "If 
a undertaker buried nine corpses one day, and 
six and a half the next — " 

I had to stop, for Angel was convulsed with 
laughter, and The Seraph was beginning to get 

Angel produced a small bottle of licorice water 
from his pocket and took a long mouthful. Then 
he handed it to me. It was soothing, delicious. 

"Me too !" cried The Seraph, and I held it to 
his eager little mouth. 

"Here," said Angel angrily, "he's swig^n' 
down the whole thing. Drop it, young'un!" 

At the same moment, the door opened quietly, 
and Mrs. Handsombody entered. I tore the bot- 
tle from The Seraph's clinging lips, and stuffed 
it, corkless, into my pocket. 

Mrs. Handsomebody sat down and disposed 
her skirt about hef knees. Her eyes travelled 
over us. 

"Alexander," she said to The Seraph, "stand 
up." He meekly rose. 

"What is that on your chin?" 

The Seraph explored his chin with his tongue. 

"It tastes sweet," he said. 

"I asked what is it?" 

The Seraph shot an imploring glance at Angel. 

"I fink," he hedged, "it's some of the gwavy 
fwom dinner left over." 


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Noblesse Oblige 

Mrs. Handsomebody turned to Angel and me. 
"Stand up," she commanded, sternly, "and we 
ihall sift this matter to the root." 

**Yes," admitted Angel, nonchalantly. "It 
w^as licorice root made into a drink." 

"Licorice root," repeated our governess, in a 
tone of disgust. "It is by imbibing such vile 
concoctions that the taste for more ardent spirits 
is created. When I was your age, I had taken 
no beverage save milk and hot water, from which 
1 graduated naturally to weak tea, and from 
thence to the — er — stronger brew. I am at pres- 
ent your guardian as well as your teacher and I 
shall do my utmost to eradicate — " 

It was impossible to follow her discourse be- 
cause of the keen discomfort I was feeling as the 
remainder of the licorice water trickled down my 
right leg. I was brought up with a start by Mrs. 
Handsomebody almost shouting : 

"John! What is that puddle on the floor be- 
neath you? Don't move! Stay where you 
are." She sprang to my side and grasped my 

"I s'pose it's some more of the woot," giggled 
The Seraph. 

I put my hand in my pocket and produced the 
empty bottle. Mrs. Handsomebody took it be- 
tween her thumb and forefinger. She gave me 
a sharp rap on the head with it. 

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"Now," she gobbled, "go to your room and 
remain there till the exercises are over, then re- 
turn to me for punishment. And change your 


My trousers had been changed. Afternoon 
school was over, and I had just finished the last 
weary line in the long imposition set by Mrs. 
Handsomebody. I stretched my cramped limbs, 
and wondered dully where my brothers were. 
My depression was increased by the fact that the 
freshly-donned trousers were brown tweed, while 
my jacket was of blue serge. 

I laid the imposition on Mrs. Handsomebody's 
desk, and listlessly set out to find the others. I 
could hear Mary Ellen in the kitchen thumping 
a mop against the legs of the furniture in a savage 
manner that bespoke no mood of airy persiflage. 
Therefore, I did not go down the back stairs, 
but throwing a leg over the hand-rail of the 
front stairs, I slowly slid to the bottom, and 
rested there a space on my stomach, an attitude 
peaceful, and conducive to clear thinking. 

I reviewed the situation dispassionately. Here 

was I, who had scarcely been at all to blame, 

humiliated, an outcast, so to speak, while Angel, 

who had made the beastly mess, went unscathed. 


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Noblesse Oblige 

As for The Seraph I I could scarcely bear to 
think of him with his tell-tale sticky little chin. 

Voices roused me. Buoyant with animation, 
they penetrated beyond the closed front door. A 
loud unknown voice, mingled with those of Angel 
and The Seraph. 

In an instant, I was on my feet, my nose pressed 
against one of the narrow windows of ruby- 
coloured glass that were on either side of the hall 
door. I could see three small red figures in an- 
imated conversation on the square grass plot 
before the house. The largest of the three be- 
gan to execute a masterly hop, skip and jump on 
the crimson grass. Above arched the sanguine 

I opened the door and closing it softly behind 
me, stood on the steps. 

The newcomer was a sturdy fellow about a year 
older than Angel. He had a devil-may-care air 
about him, and he wore, at a rakish angle, a cap, 
bearing the badge of a well-known school. He 
turned to me instantly. 

**Well," he said, "you're a rum-lookin' pup." 

I was rather abashed at such a greeting, but 
I held my ground. "My name is John," I re- 
plied simply. 

"Oh, Lordl" he groaned. ''John! Don't 
you know enough to give your surname? Eh? 

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I wish we had you at my school for a term. 
We'd lick you into shape." 

"His surname is Curzon, too," put in Angel, 
"same as mine." 

"Very well, then," said the boy, "you're Cur- 
zon major, Curzon minor, and Curzon minimus. 
Hear that, Curzon minimus?" he shouted, tweak- 
ing The Seraph's ear. 

"I say," said Angel, "you let him alone 1" 
And I ran down the steps. The boy stared. 

"Don't you keep him in order?" he asked. 

"Rather," replied Angel, "but I don't hurt him 
for nothing." 

"I have two young brothers," said the boy, 
"and I hurt them for next to nothing. Licks 
'em into shape." 

He looked around him and then added, 
"There's no fun here. Let's hook it to my place, 
and I'll show you my rabbits. 5've taken fei 
fancy to you, and, if you like, I'll let you call me 
by my first name. It's Simon. And I'll call you 
by yours. That minor and minimus business is 
rather rotten when you're friends. Come along." 

Mrs. Handsomebody, we knew, was safe at a 
lecture on The Application of Science to Human 
Relationships; Mary Ellen was doing hef Fri- 
day's cleaning; therefore, we set off with our 
new-found friend without fear of hindrance from 
the female section of our household. 

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As we trotted along, Simon told us that his 
family had taken a large old house that had stood 
vacant ever since we had come to live with Mrs. 
Handsomebody. How often we had timidly 
passed its dingy front, wondering what might be 
within its closed shutters and deep-set front door ! 

Now, as we approached, we saw that the sign. 
To Let, had been taken down ; the door and shut- 
ters were wide open; and, one of the shutters, 
hanging at a rakish angle, much as Simon wore 
his cap, gave a promise of jollity and lack of 
restraint within. 

'*We shall just cut around to the back garden," 
announced Simon. "The kids are there, and 
need putting in order by the row they are mak- 

We passed through a low door in the wall that 
separated the front garden from the back. The 
wall was^ overgrown with dusty untrimmed 
creepers, from which a flock of sparrows flew 
when the door was opened. 

For a moment, we could scarcely take in the 
scene before us; in our experience it was so un- 
precedented. But Simon did not seem in the 
least surprised. 

"Hi, kidsl" he yelled, "just keep that water 
off us, will youl Put down that hose. Mops!" 

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Explorers of the Dawn 

Mops was a girl a little younger than Simon. 
She stood in the middle of the garden, a hose in 
her hands, and she was absorbed in drenching two 
half-naked small boys and five fax terriers, who 
cirded around her like performers in a circus 
ring. The noise of yelling boys and barking dogs 
was terrific. 

"What*s she doing?" we gasped. 

''It's so dev'lish hot that the hose feels bully. 
Like to try it?" 

"I wish we had got our bathing suits," said 

"Never mind. I think there's a couple of 
pairs of trunks in the scullery, and the young 
'un can have a pinafore of Mopwe's." 

He led the way down some littered steps into a 
basement room, where a dishevelled maid was 
blacking boots. 

"Here Playter," he ordered, "dig up some togs 
for a hosing, will you? And be sharp about it, 
there's a love." 

The girl obligingly dropped her boots, and 
turning out the contents of a cupboard, pro- 
duced some faded blue bathing trunks. 

To us they seemed shamelessly inadequate, but 

Simon appeared satisfied. Now he hurried us to 

a summer-house occupied by a family of lop-eared 

rabbits, and here we changed into the trunks. 


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Noblesse Oblige 

The Seraph required some help, and when he was 
stripped, I could see his little heart pounding 
away at his ribs, for, between the exertion of 
keeping up to us, and not quite understanding why 
he was being undressed, he was very much 
wrought up. 

"It's just fun," I reassured him. *'Don't get 

"Fm not," he whispered, as I tied on his trunks, 
"but I fink it's a dangerous enterpwise." 

"Time's up," yelled Simon, "get into the 
game I" 

We leaped from the summer-house to the 
grass, and, refreshing it was to our bare soles. 
The first onslaught from the hose almost knocked 
my legs from under me, and, indeed, throughout 
the game. Mops seemed to single me out for 
special attention. We three had never in our 
lives given way to such an abandon of wildness. 
The Seraph yelled till he was hoarse, and, when 
at last Mops surrendered the hose to Simon, the 
orgy grew wilder still. 

In the midst of it, a French window at the back 
of the house opened, and a lady stood on the 

My senses had received only a delicate impres- 
sion of pink satin, golden hair, and flashing rings, 
when Simon turned the hose, in full force, on the 

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step just below her, sending a shower of drops all 
about her. With a scream she fled indoors, 
slamming the French window. 

"You got her that time, all right," said Mops, 
grinning roguishly. 

"Who is she?" I gasped. 

"Oh, just mummy," replied Simon, noncha- 

The French window opened again. This time 
a young man in grey tweeds appeared. I quite 
expected to see him greeted with a shower also, 
but Simon respectfully lowered the hose. 

"Did you turn that hose on your mother, 
Simon?" asked the young man sternly. 

"Just a little," answered Simon. 

"Well, the next time you do it you'll get your 
jacket dusted, do you hear?" 

"Yes, father." 

The young man disappeared into the house, 
three of the wet dogs following him. 

**ilsn't Lord Simon sweet?" asked Mops, with 
another roguish smile at me. 

"Awfully," I replied politely, "but is the lady 
really your mother?" 

"Let's feed," interrupted Simon, throwing 
down the hose, "Fve a rare old twist on." 

I was sorry he had interrupted us, for I yearned 
towards Mops, and I felt that further conversa- 
tion with me would be acceptable to her, but wc 

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were swept away in the stampede for food to the 
basement kitchens. 

They seemed immense to me, and full of the 
joUiest servants I had ever seen. Two men-ser- 
vants in livery were playing a game of cribbage 
at one end of a long littered table, while several 
laughing maid-servants hung over their shoulders. 
The game was suspended at our entrance, and 
they all turned to ask us questions and chaff us 
about our appearance. One of the fox terriers 
jumped on the table and began nosing among the 
saucepans. Nobody stopped him. The fat, 
good-natured cook busied herself in spreading 
bread and butter with Sultana raisins for us; the 
maid-servants made a great fuss over The Seraph. 

'In such a whirlwind did this family live that 
just as I was beginning to feel at ease in this ex- 
traordinary kitchen, I was rushed back to the gar- 
den to play, a somewhat solid feeling in my 
stomach telling me that the bread and Sultanas 
had arrived. 

"Hurrah for stilts," screamed Mops. 

"Just the thing," assented Simon. "Here 
young Bunny and Bill, fetch the stilts, and be 
sharp about it — ^hear?" and he gave them each a 
punch in the ribs. 

Thus encouraged. Bunny and Bill scampered 
across the grass, the fox-terriers yelping at their 


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heels, and, from a convenient out-house all siz 
of stilts were produced. 

These accomplished children could do all ma 
ner of amazing feats on the stilts; even little Bi 
laughed at our awkward attempts. But, afte 
many falls, Angel and I could limp haltingl] 
about the garden, and experienced the new joy oJ 
looking down at things instead of up. 

We noticed presently that Simon was propped 
against the high wall that divided this garden 
from the next. In a moment he called to us : 

"Toddle over here and see what the old girls 
are doing." 

"Who does he mean?" I asked Mops, as we 
moved stiffly, side by side. 

"It's the Unaquarium parson's garden," she 
said. "I expect they're having a tea-fight. 
They're always up to something fishy." 

Something ominous in the words should have 
warned me, but I was too elated to be heedful of 
signs or portents. I clutched the wall, and, with 
a grin of amusement, gazed down at the group of 
ladies, who, with two gentlemen in black, were 
drinking tea on the lawn. 

Bunny threw a green pear at the thin legs of the 
taller gentleman. 

The gentleman shied in a most spirited fashion, 
slopping his tea. 

Everybody turned to look in our direction. 


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'*Duck," hissed Mops. 

But it was too late to duck. Several ladies 
were already sweeping towards us. 

Then my soul fainted within me, for the voice 
of the being who ruled ouf little universe spoke 
as from a dark cloud. 

"David I John! Alexander 1" gobbled the Voice, 
**are you gone mad? Come here instantly — ^but 
no — ^you appear to be nude — answer me — arc you 

Mops answered for us; we were too afflicted 
for speech. 

"If you mean naket, we're not," she said, "but 
the dressed-up part of us is on this side." 

I was conscious of murmuring voices: What 
a terrible little girl; indeed the whole faihily; as 
for the mother — Yes — my pupils, and, for the 
present, my wards — Once they even threw a 
dead rat over! 

Then up spoke Mrs. Handsomebody. "Put 
on your clothes," she ordered, "andl meet me at 
the comer. I shall be waiting." 


We had put on our clothes. We had met her 
but, good Heaven! what a Rendezvous! She, 
and Angel, and I were pallid with suppressed emo- 
tions, while The Seraph's face was flushed crim- 
son. He was weeping loudly, as he followed in 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

our wake, and walking with some difficulty, since 
Angel and I, in our agitation, had put his trousers 
on back to front. 

Mrs. Handsomebody placed us in a row, on 
three chairs in the dining-room, and seated her- 
self opposite to us. After removing her bonnet, 
and giving it to Mary Ellen to carry upstairs to 
the wardrobe, she said: 

"If I believed that you realized the enormity 
of what you have done, I should write to South 
America to your father, and tell him that I would 
no longer undertake the responsibility of three 
boys so evilly inclined. What do you suppose my 
sensations were when, at the close of the lecture, 
the other ladies, the professor, our pastor, and 
myself adjourned to the garden for tea, to find 
you three perched, almost nude, on a wall, in such 

"Do you know that those people are not respec- 
table? The man, I am told, is a rake, who at- 
tends cockfights, and the mother of those children 
has been seen in the garden — tight/" 

"Was that the lady in pink satin?" asked 
Angel, showing interest for the first time. 

"I daresay. One would expect to find her in 
pink satin." 

The lecture went on, but I did not hear it; my 
mind dwelt insistently on thoughts of the lady in 


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"What did she do, please?" I interrupted, 
thoughtlessly, at last. 

"Who do?" 

"The lady. When she was tight." 

"So that is where your thoughts were," said 
Mrs. Handsomebody, angrily, "nice speculations 
indeed, for a little boy!" 

"I should yike a little nushment, please," inter- 
rupted The Seraph in his turn. 

"Not nourishment, but punishment is what you 
will get, young man," replied our governess, 
tartly. "What you three need is discipline at 
the hands of a strong man. We shall now go 

It was over. The gas was out, and we were 
in bed. Not snugly in bed, but smartingly; each 
trying to find a cool place on the sheets, and 
things very much bedewed by the tears of The 

"I don't care," said Angel, rather huskily. "It 
was worth it, I'd do it again like a shot." 

"So would I," I assented. "Whatever do you 
s'pose they're up to now!" 

And, indeed, the thought of this spirited 
family coloured all my dreams. . As in dancing 
rainbows they whirled about my bed : Mops with 
the hose; Bunny and Bill twinkling on stilts; 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

Simon with all the dogs at his heels; and above 
all, the lady in pink, presiding like a golden 
haired goddess, and very "tight." 

We were still in black disgrace at breakfast- 
Scarcely dared we raise our eyes to the cold face 
of Mrs. Handsomebody, lest she shoud read in 
them some yearning recollection of yesterday's 
misdeeds. Large spoonfuls of porridge and thin 
milk made unwonted gurgling noises as they hur- 
ried down our throats to our empty young 

When we had done, and The Seraph had of- 
fered thanks to God for this good meal, Mrs. 
Handsomebody marched us, like conscripts to 
the schoolroom, where she assigned to each of us 
a task to keep him busy until her return from 

But the front door had barely closed upon her 
black bombazine dress, when we scampered to the 
head of the stairs, threw ourselves upon the 
hand-rail, and slid lightly to the bottom, and 
from there ran to find Mary Ellen in the parlour. 

She was sweeping out the sombre room 
with such listless movements of her plump, red 
arms, that the moist tea-leaves on the floor 
scarce moved beneath the broom. 

"Sure, I niver) see sich a cairpet as this in all 
me bom days," she was saying. "If I was to 
swape till I fell prostitute, I'd niver ^t it clane." 


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'*0h, don't bother about the work, Mary 
Ellen!" we cried. "Just listen to the adventure 
we had yesterday 1" 

"I listened to the hindermost part of it," she 
returned, "and it sounded purty lively." 

"Who cares?" said Angel. "It didn't hurt a 

"Not a bit," assented The Seraph, cheerily. 
"She gets weaker evwy day, and I get stwonger." 

We rushed upon Mary Ellen then with the 
whole story of our new friends, dwelling, 
especially, upon ouf visit below stairs, and the 
rollicking men and maid-servants we found there. 

"They were drinking beer-and-gin," con- 
cluded Angel, "and the scullery-maid did a break- 
down for us in a pair of hunting boots." 

"It beats all,"said Mary Ellen, leaning on her 
bfoom, "what kapes me in a dull place like this, 
whin there do be sich wild goin's on just around 
the comer like. Fd give a month's wage to see 
thim folks." 

"Come around with me," suggested Angel, 
"and I'll introduce you." 

"Oh, no, Masther Angel. Misther Watlin, 
me young man, wouldn't want me to be goin' into 
mixed company widout him. An it do seem a 
pity, too, since I have me new blue dress, for 
if ever I look lovely, I look lovely in blue." And 
she attacked the tea-leaves with a lagging broom. 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

Mrs. Handsomebody, when dinner was over, 
fixed us with her cold grey eye, and said: 

"Since you have proved yourselves utterly un- 
trustworthy, you shall be locked in your bed- 
room, during my absence this afternoon. Mary 
Ellen, who will be engaged in cleaning the coal 
cellar, has been instructed to supply you with 
bread and milk at four o'clock. By exemplary 
behaviour today, you will ensure a return to your 
customary privileges tomorrow." 


The prison door was locked. The gaoler 

Thus our Saturday half-holiday 1 

Angel and I threw ourselves, face downward, 
on the bed. Not so The Seraph. Folding his 
arms, which were almost too short to fold, he 
stood before the single window, gazing through 
its grimy glass at the brick wall oipposite, as 
though determined to find something cheerful in 
the outlook. 

Aeons passed. 

Familiar faces began to leer at me from the 
pattern in the wall-paper. Angel was despond- 
ently counting out his money on the counter- 
pane, and trying to make three half-pennys and 
a penny with a hole through it, look like affluence. 

Suddenly there came a rattling of hard par- 


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Noblesse Oblige 

tides on the pane. As we stared at each other 
in surprise, another volley followed. It was a 
signal, and no mistake 1 Already The Seraph 
was tapping the window in response. A moment 
of violent exertion passed before we could get it 
open. Then, thrusting out our heads we dis- 
covered Simon standing in the passage below, 
his upturned face wearing an anxious grin. 

"Thought I'd never get you," he whispered 
hoarsely. **I saw the Dragon go out, so I fired 
a handful of gravel at every window in turn. 
Come on out." 

"We can't. We're locked inl" we chorused 

"I'll try to catch you if you jump," he sug- 
gested. "I would break the fall, anyway." 

But the way looked long, and Simon very small. 

Then: "There's a ladder," crfed The Seraph, 
gleefully, "better twy that." 

With his usual clear-sightedness, he had spied 
what had escaped his seniors. Our neighbour, 
Mr. Mortimer Pegg, had been having some 
paper hung, and, surely enough, the workmen 
had left a tall ladder propped against the wall of 
the house. Without a second's hesitation, Simon 
flung himself upon it, and with one splendid 
effort, hurled it from that support to the wall of 
Mrs. Handsomebody's house. Then, with the 
strength of a superman, he dragged it until it 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

leaned just below cmr window, and stood gasp- 
ing at its base. 

"Good fellow," said Angel, and began to dimb 

"Now, you hand me The Seraph," he ordered, 
"and I'll attend to him." 

I had some misgivings as I passed his plump, 
dinging little person through the window, and 
watched him make the perilous descent, but, in 
time, he reached the ground, and then I, too, 
stood beside the others, and the four of us 
scampered lightly down the street with no mis- 
givings, and no fears. 

Before the door of our own grocer, Simon 
made a halt. 

"Must have somethin' wet," he gasped. 
"Ladder nearly floored me." 

He took us in and treated us with princely un- 
concern to ginger beer and a jam puff apiece. 
As we sucked our beer through straws, I smiled 
to think of Mary Ellen, doubtless preparing 
bread and milk at home. 

Once more we entered the garden through the 
creeper-hung doof. We visited the rabbits, and 
unchained one of the fox-terriers, which had been 
tied up, Simon told us, as a punishment for eating 
part of a lace curtain. Bill appeared then and 
said that his mother desired us to go to her in the 
drawing-room, and, as it was beginning to rain, 

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Noblesse Oblige 

Simon agreed that it wasn't a bad idea. 
We might even find something to eat in there. 

As we trooped past the basement window, I 
lingered behind the others, and peered for a 
space into the lawless region below. What met 
my gaze almost took my breath away : for there 
was our own Mary Ellen, who should have been 
at that moment cleaning the coal cellar, sitting 
at one end of the long table, in her new blue dress, 
and plumed hat, a gentleman in livery on either 
side of her, and on the table before her, a mug, 
which, without doubt, contained gin-and-beer! 

I waited to see no more. Enough to know 
that all the world was run amuck I With a glad 
whoop, I sped after the others, and only drew 
up when I stood on the threshold of the draw- 

Like the servants' hall, it was a large apart- 
ment, and, like it, was bewildering in its colour 
and movement, to eyes accustomed to the grey 
decorum of Mrs. Handsomebody's establish- 

Though it was summer, there was a fire on 
the hearth, which played with changeful con- 
stancy on the vivid chintzes, silver candle-sticks, 
and many mirrors of the room, but most of all, 
on the golden hair and satin tea-gown of the 
lady in pink. 

She was speaking in a loud, clear voice to 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

Simon's father, who was leaning against the 
mantelpiece smoking. 

"Why the devil," she was saying, "should you 
smoke expensive cigars? Why don't you smoke 
cigarettes as I do?" 

She angrily puffed at one as she spoke, and 
threw herself back among the black and gold 
cushions of the divan, where shd was sitting. 
Her fair brow cleared, however, as her glance 
rested on The Seraph. 

"Adorable little toad I" she cried, drawing hin? 
to her side. "What is your name?" 

"Alexander," replied our youngest, "but they 
call me The Seraph. I'm not a pampud pet." 

This sent the lady into a gale of laughter. She 
hugged him closer and turned to me. 

"And what is your name. Sobersides?" she 

"John," I replied, "and my father is David 
iCurzon, and he is an engineer in South America, 
but he's coming back to England some day, and, I 
expect then we shall go to school. We just live 
with Mrs. Handsomebody." 

As I talked, her expression changed. She 
leaned forward, searching my face eagerly. 

"Is it possible?" she said, in a tragic voice. 
"Is it possible? David Curzon. His son. 
The very spit of him!" Abruptly she broke 

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Noblesse Oblige 

into gay laughter, which, somehow, I did not 
quite like: and turning to her husband, she said: 
"Do you remember Davy Curzon? He was 
such a silly old pet. LorM I'd quite forgot 

"Lucky Davy," said the gentleman, smiling at 

"And he was so ridiculously poor," she went 
on, "I remember he ruined himself once to buy 
me a pair of cream-coloured ponies, and a lapis- 
lazuli necklace. And I daresay he's fat now!" 

"He is not," I retorted stoutly. "He's thin. 
He's had the fever." 

"Again?" she cried. "He had it when I knew 
him — ^badly too. Who did he marry?" 

"A Miss Vicars," replied her husband. 
"Good family. A screaming beauty too. Other 
two boys look like her." 

But the lady had now, it seemed, no interest 
in the other two boys. The Seraph was deposed 
from his place on the divan to make room for 
me; and the lady begged me to give her a kiss, 
just for old times' sake. Yet, somehow, I did 
not quite like it, for I felt that she was making 
fun of my father, the hero of my dreams. 

Meanwhile, the other children, unchided, were 
making things lively in their own way. Mops 
and the boys were eating dates from a bowl and 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

pelting each other with the stones, while a new 
member of the family, a seemingly sexless being 
in a blue sash and shoulder knots, called "Baby," 
galloped up and down the room with a battledore 
and shuttlecock. 


No servant announced her name. I felt no 
warning tremor of solid Earth beneath my feet. 
Yet there she was, in full equipment of bom- 
bazine dress, hard black bonnet, reticule, and um- 
brella, gripped like an avenging sword. Oh^ 
that some merciful cloud might have swept us, 
like fair Iphigenia to the abode of the gods, and 
left three soft-eyed hinds in our stead! 

Yet, there we were, gazing at her, spellbound : 
and presently she enunciated with awful distinct- 

"I am come to apologize for the intrusion of 
my wards upon your privacy, and to remove them 

"Oh, bless you," said the lady in pink, cheerily, 
"three or four more don't matter to us. Won't 
you sit down? And children — please let the 
lady's things be, d'you hear?" for these intrepid 
children had gathered around Mrs. Handsome- 
body as though she were a dancing bear; and 
"Baby" had even pulled her umbrella from her 
hand substituting for it the battledore which 


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Noblesse Oblige 

Mrs. Handsomebody unconsciously held, with an 
effect of ferocious playfulness. 

^*I thank you," replied Mrs. Handsomebody. 
"I shall remain standing." 

"Let me make you acquainted with my hus- 
band," pursued the lady, "he's Lord Simon de 
Laoey, second son of the Duke of Aberfalden. 
Please excuse him smokinM" 

The effect of these simple words on Mrs. Hand- 
somebody was startling. She brandished the 
battledore as though to ward off the approach- 
ing Lord Simon, and repeated in a trembling 
voice : 

"Lord Simon de Lacey — Duke of Aberfalden. 
Surely there is some mistake." 

"I'm afraid not," said Lord Simon, shaking 
her hand. "In me you behold the traditional, 
impecunious younger son, and — " 

"But it will not always be so," interrupted 
Lady Simon, shouting to make herself heard, 
"for, you see, my husband's older brother is an 
invalid who will never marry, so we shall inherit 
the dukedom and estates one day. This child — " 
pointing to young Simon — "is a future duke." 

"He has a lovely brow," said Mrs. Hand- 
somebody, beaming at him. 

Indeed, an astounding change had come over 
our governess. No longer was her manner 
frigid; her face, so grey and hard, had softened 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

till it seemed to radiate benevolence. She 
beamed at Bill and Bunny playing at leap-frog 
before her chair; she beamed at "Baby," gallop- 
ing astride of her umbrella; she beamed at Mops, 
trying to force a date into the mouth of a strug- 
gling fox-terrier; she even beamed at me when I 
caught her eye. 

"I trust that your father, the Duke, keeps 
well," she said to Lord Simon. 

"Great old boy," he replied. "Never misses 
a meet. Been in at the death of nearly four 
thousand foxes." 

"Ah, blood will tell," breathed Mrs. Hand- 

"You see," interposed Lady Simon, "the Duke 
disinherited my husband when he married me. 
Didn't approve of the Profession. I was Miss 
Dulcie June, awfully well known. Photographs 
all over the place. Danced at the Gaiety, 

"I'm sure I have heard of you," said Mrs. 

"Well, the Duke and I ran into each other at a 
dog show last week, and he was so struck with 
me, he asked to be introduced, and has asked us 
all to visit him at Falden Castle. It looks hope- 
ful, don't it?" 

"Indeed, yes. But we shall be very sorry to 
lose you. It is so difficult for me to find suitable 


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Noblesse Oblige 

companions for my wards, and your children are 
so — spirited. Of course, blood will tell." 

"Just what I say," assented Lady Simon, "for 
I was a spirited girl, if ever there was one. 
What with late hours, and toe-dancin' and high- 
kickin', it's a wonder how I stood it. I think I 
was like that Sir Galahad chap whose 'strength 
was as the strength of ten' — ^" 

"Doubtless because your art was pure, my 
love," put in Lord Simon, with a sly smile. 

"I used to know this boy's father in those 
days," went on Lady Simon. "He was a lamb." 

"He was also my pupil in his youth," said Mrs. 
Handsomebody, and the two talked on in the 
happiest fashion, till we took our leave, the whole 
family following us to the door, and "Baby" re- 
turning Mrs. Handsomebody's umbrella, and re- 
lieving her of the battledore without her having 
been aware of the negotiation. 

So we who had expected to be haled to retribu- 
tion, as criminals of the deepest dye, floated 
homeward in the serene light of Mrs. Handsome- 
body's approval. 

No one spoke till the Cathedral came in view. 
Then Angel said : 

"There's a window in the Cathedral in memory 
of a son of some Duke of Aberf alden. He died 
about a hundred years ago." 

"The very same family," replied our governess, 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

"and, I am sure, from now on, my dear boy, you 
will regard the window with a new reverence." 

"You must have noticed,'' she proceeded, "the 
geniality and dignity that emanated from each 
separate member of that noble family. This is 
admirably expressed by the French in the saying 
' — 'Noblesse oblige' — ^meaning that nobility has 
its obligations. Repeat the phrase after me, 
David, that you may acquire a f>erfect accent." 

"Knob-less obleedge," repeated Angel, sub- 
missively; and The Seraph also repeated it several 
times, as though storing it away for future use. 

When Mrs. Handsomebody rang the door-bell, 
I trembled for Mary Ellen, remembering where 
I had last seen her, but the admirable girl 
promptly opened the door to us, clad in the drab- 
est of her cellar-cleaning garb, a smudge of soot 
on her rosy cheek. 

Mrs. Handsomebody ordered safdines for tea, 
and had the silver tea-pot brought out. She also 
dressed for the occasion, adding a jet bracelet, 
seldom seen, to her toilet. 

All went well, till, at bedtime. The Seraph 
could not be found. Becoming alarmed, Mfs. 
Handsomebody, at last, opened the door of the 
forbidden parlour. Angel and I peering from be- 
hind her, hoping, yet fearing, to discover the 

Truly the gods had a mind to The Seraph. 


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Noblesse Oblige 

His was ever the cream of every adventure. 
There he was, lolling at ease, in a tasselled velvet 
chair, just beneath the portrait of Mr. Hand- 
somebody. Lolling at ease, and smoking a 
gold-tipped cigarette, which, he afterwards con- 
fessed, he had got from Bill, in trade for a piece 
of India-rubber. 

Like an old-timer he| handled it, watching the 
smoke-wreaths above his head with the tranquil 
gaze of an elderly club-man. 

"Merciful Heaven!" screamed Mrs. Hand- 
somebody, clutching Angel and me for support. 
"Are you demented, Alexander? Do you realize 
what you are doing?" 

The Seraph drew a long puff, looking straight 
intdl her eyes, before he replied: then, in a tone 
of gentle seriousness, he said: 

"Knob-less obleedge." 



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Chapter IX: The Cobbler And 
His Wife 

Bootlaces had become of immense importance 
to us, since a lack of them always meant a visit to 
the cobbler to buy new ones. They were compara- 
tively easy to break, or to tie in knots that even 
Mary Ellen's strong fingers could not undo. 
Then there were tongues. One could always dis- 
locate a tongue. At any rate, the boots of one of 
the three were always needing attention. 

"Bless me!" our governess would exclaim, 
wrathfuUy, "Another heel off I One would think 
you did it purposely. And boots such a price! 
Just think of your poor father in South America, 
working day in and day out to provide you with 
boots, which you treat with no more consideration 
than if they were horseshoes — well, to the cob- 
bler's then — and tell him to mind his charges. It 
should cost no more than sixpence." 

The cobbler lived in the tiniest of a group of 
tiny houses that huddled together, in a panicky 
fashion, in a narrow street behind Mrs. Hand- 
somebody's house. From an upper window we 


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The Cobbler and His Wife 

could look down on their roofs, where the plump, 
Cathedral pigeons used to congregate to gossip 
and sun themselves. 

You went down three stone steps into the cob- 
bler's shop. There he always sat at work by his 
bench, tapping away at the sole of a shoe, or 
stitching leather with his strange needle. His 
hands fascinated us by their coat of smooth oily 
dirt. Never cleaner, never dirtier, always the 
same useful, glove-like covering. Did he go to 
bed with them so? How jolly! we thought. His 
face, too, was of extraordinary interest. It was 
so thin that the sharp bones could be seen beneath 
the dusky skin, and he would twitch his nostrils 
at the breeze that came in his open window, for 
all the world like an eager brown hare. His hair 
curled so tightly over his head that one knew he 
could never pull a comb through it, and we were 
sure he was far too sensible to try. 

Mrs. Handsomebody said he was half gypsy, 
and not to be encouraged. Mary Ellen said, 
God help him with that wife of his. 

He bred canaries. 

All about the low window their wooden cages 
hung. Even from the darkest corners of the 
shop bursts of song leaped like little flames and 
yellow breasts bloomed like daffodils. When 
the cobbler tapped a shoe with his hammer, they 
sang loudest, making a wild and joyous din. 


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Thus they were all busy together when we en- 
tered on this winter morning, carrying Angel's 
heelless boot, wrapped in a newspaper. 

"Good-morning, Mr. Martindale," said Angel, 
above the din, "you see IVe got another heel off, 
so Fm wearing my Sunday boots, and Mrs. Hand- 
somebody says it shouldn't be above sixpence, 

The cobbler ceased his tapping, and all the 
birds stopped to listen : 

"Good-morning, little masters," he said, in 
his soft voice. "What wild things your feet are 
to be| sure. Try as 1 will, I cannot tame them. 
You might as well try to keep three wild ponies 
shod." He undid the parcel and turned the boot 
over in his hands. "Sixpence, did she say? 
Nay, tell her a shilling, for the sole needs stitch- 
ing as well." 

"Oh, but you must keep that for another day," 
said Angel, "so we can come again." 

"How she tries to keep you down," said the 
cobbler. "How old are you now?" 

I replied to this. "Angel's ten, and I'm nine, 
and The Seraph's six." 

"Just the brave age for the woods. I wish I 
had my old van again, and could take you on the 
road with me. You'd learn something of forest 
ways in no time. Shall you wait for this?" 

Wait for it? Rather. We established our- 


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The Cobbler and His Wife 

selves about him; The Seraph climbed beside him 
on the bench ; Angel took possession of his tools, 
handing them to him as required; while I busied 
myself in plentifully oiling a strip of leather. 
The birds chirped and pecked above our heads. 

Angel asked: "Did you do much cobbling in 
the van, Mr. Martindale?" 

"Ay, cobbling and tinkering too. The forest 
birds liked to hear me just the same as those 
canaries. Especially the tinkering. They'd 
crowd about and sing fit to burst their throats — 
w'ood-thrushes, finches, and all sorts. Then, I 
used to stop at village fairs and take in a nice bit 
of silver. For my missus could play the concer- 
tina, and I had a cage of lovebirds that could tell 
fortunes and do tricks." 

A strange voice spoke from .the passage behind 
the shop. 

"Ay. Comical tridcs lovebirds do. And 
cruel tricks, love. I've been tricked by 'em." 

"Better lie down, Ada," said Martindale. 
"Or make tea. That'll quiet ye." He rose and 
went to the door, closing it softly. But he had 
barely seated himself again, when there came a 
scfeam from the passage. 

"Look what you've did, you villain, you've shut 
me in the doorl Ohl ohl I'm trapped in this 
comical passage! Loose me quick 1" 

Martindale sprang to the door, where a strip of 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

red petticoat showed that his wife was indeed 
caught, and went out into the passage, speaking 
in a soothing tone, and leading her away. 

"I fink rU go," whispered The Seraph. 

"Don't be silly," I assured him, "the cobbler 
will take care she don't hurt us." 

"She's a character, isn't she?" said Angel, bor- 
rowing a phrase from Mary Ellen. 

Martindale returned then, sat down on his 
bench, and, smoothing his leather apron, resumed 
his work with composure. 

"I fink," said The Seraph, "I hear Mrs. Hand- 
somebody calling. I better be off." 

"Bide a little while," said Martindale, "and 
I'll tell you a first rate story — about birds too. 
Then you'll forget your fright, little master, eh?" 

The Seraph moved closer to him, and the 
canaries burst into a fury of song. 

"It's wonderful what birds know," he began. 
"News flies as fast among 'em as wind on the 
heath, and if you do an injury to one, the others'U 
never forgive it. For though they may fight 
among themselves, they'll all join together against 
one wicked cruel man." 

The canaries ceased their singing, and fluttered 
against the bars. 

"Just look at Coppertoes," said the cobbler, 
pointing to a large ruffled bird, "he's heard this 
tale often afore, yet it always exdtes him. He'll 


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The Cobbler and His Wife 

peck at his perch; and beat his wings for hours 
after it. Won't you, my pet?" 

Coppertoes crouched on his perch, his beak 
open, making little hissing sounds. 

"Well, there was a man," went on the cobbler, 
"a student fellow he was, who was always making 
queer messes with chemicals, and fancying he was 
about to discover some wonderful new combina- 
tion. He lived in a top room in a high, narrow 
house, well on towards three hundred years ago. 
And all those years, a family of song-sparrows, 
and their descendants, had nested under the eaves 
directly above his window. Hatched out their 
young; fed them; and taught them to fly. Very 
well. This student fellow was all in a fever one 
morning because he believed that, at last, his 
great discovery was all but perfect. Just a few 
hours more and he would have it in the hollow of 
his hand. But he could not rightly fasten his 
brain to work because of the constant cheeping 
of the young sparrows under the eaves. Every 
time the mother bird brought them a moth or 
worm they raised a chorus of yells; and when 
she flew away, they cheeped for her to come back 

"The student-fellow shut his window, but it did 
not keep out the noise. Then he flung open the 
window and waved his arms and shouted at them. 
But they only cheeped the louder. Now a dread- 

[255] , 

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Explorers of the Dawn 

ful rage took hold on him. With his heart full 
of murder, he fetched a basin in which he had 
put some poisonous drug. He set fire to this and 
set it on the window sill just below the nest. 
Then, with a triumphal smile, he shut the window 
fast, leaving the fledglings to perish in the fumes 
that rose, thidc and deadly from the basin. 

"For hours he worked, and, at last, to his 
great joy, he figured put the amazing problem 
that was to be a gain to the whole world. He 
was so tired that he clean forgot the little birds, 
and flung himself, face down, on his bed to rest. 
He did not wake until the next morning at seven. 
It was so dark that he had to strike a light to 
see the face of his watch. Now he knew that it 
should not be dark at either seven in the morning 
or seven at night; and. he felt very strange. The 
room was full of the unclean smells of his chemi- 
cals, and he groped his way to the window to get 
air. But the outdoor air was murky and he saw 
that a heavy cloud had settled just above the 
chimney pots. This cloud seemed to palpitate, 
as though made of a million beating wings. 
Down below he could hear the clatter of wooden 
clogs on the cobble stones, as people were running 
in a panic to the Town Hall. The big bell of it 
began to ring, but in a muffled way as though 
borne down by the cloud. The student guessed 
that a meeting was being called. 


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The Cobbler and His Wife 

"He remembered the yarrows then, and he 
craned his neck to seef the nest. There was the 
little mother-bird sitting in the nest with her 
wings outstretched to protect the nestlings from 
the deadly fumes. Her beak was wide open and 
she was quite dead." 

The Seraph's breast heaved and his tears be- 
gan to drop on the cobbler's leather apron. 
Coppertoes squatted beneath his swing, striking 
it angrily with his shoulders so that it swung 
violently. All the other birds were silent. 

Steadily working at the shoe the cobbler pro- 
ceeded: "The terrible truth was borne to the 
student then, and he knew that the cock sparrow, 
on finding his mate and her young ones thus foully 
murdered, had flown swiftly to the king of all 
the birds, and told him of the deed. The king 
had summoned great battalions of birds, from 
fierce eagles and owls (these last rushing from 
their dark hiding places) down to fluttering little 
wrens and tomtits. 'Twas of those that the 
great cloud was made, and it hung just over the 
town likef a dark wave that would soon smother 
the townsfolk. 

"The student caught up the paper where he 
had writ the great discovery and made for the 
street, running along with the rest of the folk, 
and ready to drop with fear of the gfeat press of 
wings above them. When he got to the Town 


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Hall, he found the whole town huddled together 
there, even new mothers with their babes, like 
young birds; and, in a moment the beadle had 
swung the great doors shut. In there they could 
scarce see each other's fearful faces; but the 
student dumb up on the council table, and he told 
out bravely enough how it was all his doing, and 
since he had brought it to pass, he was prepared 
to go out and face the birds alone. 

**But first he handed over the paper to the 
Mayor, and charged him to guard it stoutly, for 
it was about the most precious thing on earth. 
Then he called — *Good-bye! friends,' and went, 
since there was no time to spare; for the birds 
were beginning to hammer like hail on the win- 
dows with their beaks, especially the cranes and 

"When the door had clanged behind him the 
women mourned aloud, for they knew they would 
never see him again. A great tumult rose out- 
side as of a hurricane, and it grew pitch dark. 
After a spell, the noise ceased, and the cloud 
lifted, and a shaft of sunlight slanted across the 
hall. The village tailor opened the door, for 
the mayor and the beadle were sore af eared. 
There was not a bird in sight, though the ground 
was inches deep in feathers they had dropped. 
As for the student, no one ever saw him again. 
Whether the birds had carried him off bodily to 


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The Cobbler and His Wife 

some secret place, or whether they had torn him 
piecemeal, no one knew." 

The Seraph sniffled. "It's nice and twagic," 
he said. 

"What became of his great discovery?" asked 

"Ay, you may well ask that. Why, the mayor 
said it was bewitched and held it in the flame of 
a candle till there was naught left of it but cin- 
ders. . . . Now, here is your boot, little master, 
good as new, and the cost but one shilling." 


When we entered the house, we heard voices 
in the parlour, and found our governess there, 
superintending Mary Ellen at work. Mary Ellen 
was carefully brushing and duiting the plumage 
of the stuffed birds. 

I stared with a new interest at those feathered 
members of our household, who held themselves 
so coldly aloof from the rest of us; asking neither 
gift of chickweed nor of sugar, disdaining the 
very air we breathed. Who knew but that yon- 
der sad-eyed hawk had helped to tear the student ! 
"Piecemeal" the cobbler's word for it — one could 
picture him with some bloody fragment, shooting 
straight upward, his wide pinions spread. 

Mrs. Handsomebody was speaking in a com- 
plaining way to Angel. 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

"A shilling! 'Tis ridiculous. For such a 
paltry piece of work. I shall go around that 
way when we take our walk and protest against 
such extortion. I said sixpence to you when you 
set out." 

"I know," replied Angel, "but he said it was 
worth a shilling." 

"You see, he has a wife to keep," put in The 
Seraph, "and live birds to feed." 

Mary Ellen withdrew her head from the in- 
terior of the glass case. 

"Oh'm," she said, very red in the face, "it's 
thrue that Misther Martindale needs every penny 
he can lay hands on, for his wife is no good to 
him at all, and he has to hire a charwoman to 
clane up iot her." 

"Then," said Mrs. Handsomebody, "I shall 
seek a shoemaker who has no such encumbrance. 
Is the woman feeble-minded or a sloven?" 

"Faith, she's both 'm, and ivery day she's get- 
tin' worse than she do be. I've heard her say 
sich things whin I've been in the shop that me 
very sowl-case shivered." 

"What sort of things?" 

"Well," said Mary Ellen, circling her duster 
on the glasses, so that she might still be said to 
be working as she talked, "the other day whin I 
called for me slippers wid the satin bows on — " 

"I disapprove of those bows." 

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The Cobbler and His Wife 

" — She was in the passage beyant, and just 
the voice of her came through the crack o' the 
dure. She says, says she : *If a body was to fall 
— an' fall — an' fall — and there was naught to 
stop him, it's comical to think where he'd light 
on.' . . . Her voice was as solemn as the church 
organ, 'm. Another day she says: 'If I could 
only git the moon out of this passage, there'd be 
room for my head to whirl round and round 1' 
'Excuse me,' I says to the cobbler, 'I'll call for 
thim shoes later.' " 

"What appearance has she?" inquired Mrs. 

"Noan at all. I've niver seed her. No one 
has ever seed her. She's more banshee than 
woman, I do belave." 

True to her threat, Mrs. Handsomebody 
stopped at the cobbler's that afternoon, at the 
outset of our accustomed promenade. The birds 
were in full chorus as we descended the steps into 
the shop. 

The cobbler got to his feet, and touched his 
forehead respectfully. This pleased Mrs. Hand- 

"My good man," she said, "You have sadly 
overcharged me for putting a new heel on this 
child's boot. I said, when I sent it that it was 
worth sixpence — " 

The cobbler opened his mouth \o speak. 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

— **Now, don't interrupt," continued Mrs. 
Handsomebody. **I shall not ask you to refund 
the sixpence ; but I have brought a prunella gaiter 
of my own which needs stitching, and I shall ex- 
pect you to do it, without extra charge, if you 
wish to retain the patronage of my household." 

Here was a test of manhood! Would Mar- 
tindale, a full-grown male, submit to being bullied 
by a creature who wore a bustle, and a black silk 
apron? Alas, for the whiskered sex! He took 
his medicine; just as we, hedged in some fateful 
comer, gulped down our* castor oil. Turning 
the gaiter over in his dark hands, he meekly as- 
sented. Mrs. Handsomebody, appeased by her 
easy victory, inquired after his wife. 

"Oh, poorly as usual, thank you ma'am," he 

"I should think that country life would be much 
better for her." 

"She's even worse in the country." 

"There was a sheet of an excellent religious 
paper wrapped about that gaiter. You might 
give it to her to read." 

"Thank you, ma'am, I will, though she takes 
more comfort reading the dream-book than any- 

"Burn the dream-book. It is probably at the 
root of the trouble." 


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The Cobbler and His Wife 

'*No," replied the cobbler, slowly, "It all be- 
gan when we lost our daughter." 

Mr^. Handsomebody was touched. "That is 
sad indeed. How old was the child?" 

"Just two days old, ma'am. We were camp- 
ing in a forest when she was born, and I had 
laid her in a little hammock among the birds, and 
some gypsies must have stolen her, for when I 
came back she was gone. She'd be eighteen 
now." He stroked his leather apron with trem- 
bling hands, at the same time giving me a curious 
look of appeal. So when Mrs. Handsomebody, 
after a few words of sympathy made a movement 
to go, I developed a strange pain in the leg, that 
made walking an impossibility. She consented 
that I should rest a while at the cobbler's, and 
then return home carrying the gaiter. 

When Martindale and I were left alone, he 
cautiously opened the doof into the passage, 
peered out, and then returned. . He said softly : 

"Little Master, I've got to get rid of Copper- 
toes. She's turned against him. She says he 
comes out of his cage, of nights, and flies about 
the house, pecking at the food, and trying to 
make a nest in her hair. She says he stole a 
golden sovereign of hers and hid it in an old 
shoe. Isn't it a shame, and he such a lovely 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

"It's awful," I agreed. "What shall you do?" 

"I know a man who will buy him, but he is out 
of town till tomorrow. Could I depend on you, 
little master, to keep him for me till then? If 
he is left here the misses will do him an injury." 

"But Mrs. Handsomebody — " I faltered. 

"Just put him in some out o' the way corner 
with a cloth over his cage, and a lump of sugar. 
He'll be quiet as can be, and 'twill soon be 


With a delicious sense of secrecy, I stole past 
the Cathedral. Pressed against my breast was 
the cage that held Coppertoes. He sat quietly 
on his perch, very long, and slender, and bright- 
eyed with amazement at this sudden excursion 
into a new world. I wondered what he thought 
of the towering Cathedral, shrouded in a film of 
hoar frost that lent its ancient stones a bloom 
as delicate as the petals of flowers. 

Three pigeons hopped daintily down the 
shallow stone steps, cocking their heads inquisi- 
tively at the bird in the cage. I shouted at them, 
and they rose slowly to the tower above. 

Silent indeed was the hall when I entered. 
Only the clock ticked ponderously. The house 
was cold, and Coppertoes seemed suddenly very 
fragile. How lonely he would be! I stared at 


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The Cobbler and His Wife 

the closed door of the parlour, thinking what a 
shame that the stuffed birds In there were not 
alive, so they might be company for him. Still 
• — ^he was very young — and had not seen much 
of the world. Might he not be made to believe 
that they were a foreign breed that never chirped 
or left their perches? Anything was better than 
the dark and loneliness. And if he chose to sing 
I was sure he could not be heard through that 
heavy door. 

Like a ghost I went in and shut the door be- 
hind me. 

I held his wicker cage against the glass case. 
"Coppertoes," I whispered, "Other birds! 
Aren't they pretty? Want to get in an' play 
with them, old chap? See the pretty oriole? 
An' the owl, Coppertoes. Lovebirds, too. Want 
to get in, little fellow? Such a bully big cage you 
never saw." 

I opened the door of the glass case, and cau- 
tiously introduced the bird cage. I opened the 
door of the cage. Coppertoes paid no heed but 
busied himself in pecking sharply at his lump of 
sugar. I urged him with my finger but still he 
refused to see the door. Then I took away his 
sugar, and poked him. With a light and care- 
less hop he was on the threshold. He cocked 
his head. He spied the oriole. 

An instant later he was at its throat. Feathers 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

flew. He was back again on the roof of his 
cage spitting feathers out of his mouth. More 
feathers sailed slowly through the heavy air. 
Then he spied the lovebirds. With passionate 
fury he attacked them both at once, tearing their 
plumage impartially; his eye already selecting the 
next victim. 

Though my heart thumped with apprehension, 
my mouth was stretched in a broad grin. I felt 
that I should never tire of the spectacle before 
me. I realized that I had always hated the 
stuffed birds. 

Coppertoes was busy with the owl, when a 
piercing scream came from behind me. I turned 
and found Mrs. Handsomebody gazing with hor- 
rified fascination at the orgy under glass. She 
took three steps forward, her eyes starting with 

"Come to life — " she gasped, in a strangled 
voice — "after all these years — and gone stark 

She fell, at full length, across the green and 
red medallions of the carpet. 

Then, with a rush, Mary Ellen and the char- 
woman, Mrs. Coe, were upon us, and, after them, 
my brothers. 

"Lord preserve us!" cried Mary Ellen, bend- 
ing above her prostrate mistress, "what has come 
over the poor lady to be took like this?" 

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The Cobbler and His Wife 

"Is she dead, do you fink?" asked The Seraph, 
on a hopeful note. 

"Well, if she is, faith! 'tis yersilves has kilt 

"She's just in a swoond," asserted Mrs. Coe, 
calmly. "Wot she needs is brandy. Yus, and 
terbaccer smoke blowed dahn 'er froat." Mrs. 
Handsomebody moaned. 

"Better get her out of here," suggested Angel, 
his eye on Coppertoes who, sated by bloodshed, 
lay with wings outstretched, panting on the floor 
of the case. 

"Thrue," agreed Mary Ellen. "And shut the 
dure afther ye, and make yersilves scarce till tea- 
time, like good childer, do." 

Mrs. Handsomebody was borne away by Mary 
Ellen and Mrs. Coe, the latter still muttering — 
"terbaccer smoke dahn 'er froat." 

We restored Coppertoes to his wicker cage, and 
wrapping it in an antimacassar, hid it beneath 
the piano. 


We three sat, "making ourselves scarce," on 
the topmost of the steps before the front door. 
It was only four by the Cathedral clock, which 
solemnly struck the hour, but it was almost dark. 
It was cold and we pressed closely together for 
warmth. The Seraph murmured a little song of 
which I caught the words : 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

"The birds! The birds! 
He knocked the stuffing 
Out of the stuffed birds!" 

We watched the slow progress of the lamp- 
lighter along the street. Like a god, he marched 
solemnly, leaving new stars in his wake. 

As he raised his wand and touched the lamp 
before our house, a new figure appeared beneath 
its rays, hurrying darkly towards us. It entered 
the gate and came in a stealthy way to where we 
sat. We recognized the cobbler. 

"Little masters," he whispered. "She's 

"Good widdance," said The Seraph, briskly. 
"She was too comical to be a nice wife." 

"Ah, no," replied the cobbler. "She's weak 
in her head and bound to come to something 
hurtful. I'll not seek my bed this night until 
I've found her. I thought mayhap you'd ha' seen 
her pass!" 

"No," replied Angel. "We didn't. But per- 
haps the lamplighter did." 

With one accord, we hurried after the retreat- 
ing figure. Hearing our footsteps, He turned and 
faced us beneath a newly lit lamp. Its serene 
radiance fell on his solemn blue-eyed face, sur- 
rounded by red whiskers. 

"What's the turmoil?" he asked. "Did I for- 
get a lamp?" 

"Have ye seen a strange-appearing woman?" 

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The Cobbler and His Wife 

asked Martindale. "With a shawl about her, 
and mayhap remarking something about the moon, 
or a evil-minded canary." 

The lamplighter ran his fingers through his 
red beard. "She warn't saying naught about 
canaries," he affirmed, "but she did say as how 
if she could once get the moon in Wumble Pool, 
she'd drown it." 

"Wumble Pool. That's where she's gone 
then. I can't seem to place it." 

"It's less nor a mile from here, and since my 
last lamp is lit, I'll not mind guiding you so far. 
Who be she, this woman?" 

"My wife. She's fey, and I'm fearing she'll 
drown herself." 

"It's a very bad fing to be drowned," put in 
The Seraph, as we all set off together. " 'Cos a 
bath in a tub is wet enough." 

What a chill, dark night it was growing 1 The 
Cathedral clock struck a hollow warning note as 
we passed. We heard the beat of wings as the 
pigeons settled for the night. 

The Seraph grasped a hand each of the cobbler 
and the lamplighter, taking long manful strides 
to keep up with them. We seemed, indeed, a 
sinister company setting out on dark adventure. 

Hurriedly we traversed narrow, winding 
streets, where night had already fallen in the 
shadow of clammy walls. Strange and eerie was 
the path between wet trees, when we had left the 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

town behind. The lamplighter with his tall 
wand alight seemed like some unearthly messen- 
ger come to conduct us to goblin realms. 

We spoke never a word till an open common 
lay before us ; then the lamplighter pointing with 
his wand to a glimmering surface fringed by rank 
grass, said: 

"Ton's Wumble Pool." 

Wumble Pool! The very name struck a chill 
to our hearts. 

"Yes, and there's the moon," whispered the 

It was true that the distorted image of the 
moon floated dimly in the Pool, as though it had 
indeed been caught by the mad-woman, and 

"How soft the ground is I" breathed Angel. 

"Ay, and the Pool has no bottom," said the 

"I can't think she'd have the heart to do it," 
said Martindale. 

The Seraph screamed. 

"There she isl I see her! Standing in the 

We ran to the brink. A cold air struck our 
faces. Our feet sank ankle-deep in the mud. 
The cobbler did not stop, but ran on into the 
Pool, where the shawled figure of a woman stood, 
covered to the waist by the sullen, black water. 

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The Cobbler and His Wife 

"Ada 1 Ada 1" cried the cobbler, throwing his 
arms about her. 

"Leave me gol" shrieked the woman. "I'm 
a-goin' to drownd myself!" 

The struggle in the water, shattered the re- 
flection of the moon like pale amber glass. Once 
they both sank into the water; the lamplighter 
waving his wand, and shouting. Then, at last, 
the four of us bent over them as they lay, huddled, 
on the grass at the brink. 

"You'd ought to be ashamed of yourself to 
worrit your 'usband so," said the lamplighter, 

"'Usband!" cried the woman, shrilly. "I've 
got no 'usband!" 

The cobbler gave a cry of fear. He pulled 
the shawl from her head and felt the face and 

"God's truth!" he muttered, "I've saved the 
wrong woman." 

"Better fwow her back again," suggested The 

"Nay, nay, little man," said the lamplighter, 
holding his light close to her face. "That would 
never do. Besides, her be young and winsome." 

"I'd keep her," said Angel. 

"Whoever are you, lass?" asked Martindale, 
in a trembling voice, "and why did you plan to 
make way with yourself?" 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

The moon shone wanly on the girl's face and 
wet hair. 

"I'm nobody," she wailed, "and I be tired of 

"Did you see aught of a strange woman?" 
asked Martindale. "One who was talking about 
the moon, and her head a-whirling?" 

"She came right down the road ahead of me," 
she answered, in a weak voice, "and ran straight 
into the pool. When she was in, she grabbed 
the floating image of the moon, and she said: 
*IVe got you, at last, you comical villain I' And 
she laughed, and seemed to struggle with it, and 
she went down." 

"That'd be her, all right," said the lamplighter. 

"Ada mine, Ada mine," mourned Martindale. 

Angel and The Seraph and I clutched hands, 
and looked shudderingly into Wumble Pool. 

"That seemed to scare me like," went on the 
girl, "and I couldn't jump right in, but I just 
crept, a step at a time, fearing I'd step on the 

"No danger," said The Seraph complacently, 
"there's no bottom." 

"One thing is certain," pronounced the lamp- 
lighter, "this young 'ooman should have some 
hot spirits in her inside, and be wrapped in a 
warm blanket, afore she's starved with the cold." 

First we walked all around Wumble Pool, and 

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The Cobbler and His Wife 

poked it with sticks, but there was no sign of the 
cobbler's wife. Then, slowly, we retraced our 
steps to the town, the two men supporting the 
dripping girl. 

A lamp burned with a ruddy glow in the room 
behind the shop, where all the birds were sleep- 
ing. Martindale put his charge in a chair by the 
hearth, and made gin-and-beer hot for everybody. 
The Seraph kissed the girl, and she said that she 
was glad after all that she was safe out of Wum- 
ble Pool. 

"What is your name, my dear?" questioned 

"I don't know my name rightly, sir, for I was 
stole by ppsies when I was but two days old." 

The cobbler gave a cry and set down his glass. 
"Gipsies — two days' old — " he stammered. 
Then he pushed back the thick hair, about her 
ear. "Yes, yesl" pointing to a tiny slit in the 
lobe, "there is the very place, — ^where one of my 
jealous birds pecked her the day she was born 1" 
He caught her in his arms and held her, mysti- 
fied but happy — . 

The reunion was interrupted by a pounding at 
the door. It was a furious Mary Ellen, her 
night out completely spoiled by the search for us. 

Thus we were haled before Mrs. Handsome- 
body, questioned, upbraided, and ^ven, at last, 
a bowl of hot grticl apiece. 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

'Tau deserve," she said bitterly, '*to go empty 
to bed, but my conscience forbids that I relax my 
vigilance over your health. Tomorrow, we 
shall see what can be done in the way of disci- 

We sat on three high-backed haircloth chairs. 
The steaming gruel slipped thickly into our stom- 
achs. The hot gin had gone to our heads. Mrs. 
Handsomebody's head looked abnormally large 
to me, and seemed to be whirling round and 
round. Surely she was not getting like the cob- 
bler's wifel Mrs. Handsomebody was still 
scolding : 

"You began the day by introducing a canary 
of the lowest proclivities into my case of stuflFed 
birds, where he perpetrated irreparable dam- 

The Seraph interrupted, "Don't you yike live 
birds, Mrs. Handsomebody?" 

"I prefer stuffed birds to live ones, I confess." 

The Seraph said apologetically: "And I pwefer 
pn to gwuel — any day." 

"Ginl Where did you taste pn?" 

Without reply The Seraph hurried on, while 
Angel and I scraped our bowls: 

"There was once a student fellow and he didn't 
yike live birds, either. He poisoned one and it 
died. Then he undertook a walk (this was a 
favourite expression of Mrs. Handsomebody' s) 


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The Cobbler and His Wife 

and all the other birds pounced on him and tore 
him piecemeal." 

Mrs. Handsomebody, with a ferocious gleam 
in her eye, leaned forward to catch the rest. 
The Seraph's voice was low and insinuating. 

"I was finking" — ^with a chuckle — **that you 
might poison one of the nicest of the stuffed birds. 
Then you might get in the glass case wiv the 
others. We could lock the door on the outside 
and watch through the glass." 

"And I expect you think they would tear me 
piecemeal? Is that the idea?" 

**Oh, I don't know," chuckled The Seraph. 
**But suppose you twy it." 



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Chapter X: The New Day 


I think we must have felt that he was coming, 
for we awoke at dawn that morning. I could 
barely see the silvery bars between the slats of 
the shutters. The Seraph was stirring in his 
sleep, and in a moment he whispered: "I say, 
John, what's that long black thing behind the 

"Just some clothes hung up," I whispered back. 

"I fought they moved," he said. "Do you 
fink the wardrobe* door moved, John?" 

"Everything seems a little queer this morning," 
I replied. "I heard a whispering sort of noise 
at the shutters a bit ago." 

Angel began to talk in his sleep. 

"If three suns were to rise at six," he mut-. 
tered, "how many stars would it take to make a 

The Seraph began to laugh delightedly. He 
kicked his legs and showed all his little white 
teeth. Angel opened his eyes and stared at us 
crossly. "What a beastly row," he said. "I 
want to sleep some more." 


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The New Day 

The silver bars between the slats of the shut- 
ters took a golden tinge. Clearly it was to be 
a fine day, after a week of rain and sleet. 

The chimes of the Cathedral sounded. The 
notes came with penetrating sweetness as though 
the air w^re cold and clear. We heard the door 
of Mary Ellen's room open; she descended the 
back stairs noisily. 

The Seraph turned a somersault in the middle 
of the bed. 

**Cwistmas is coming," he said, trying to stand 
on his head, **and I want*a pony." 

We threw ourselves into a general scuffle, and 
the old-four-poster creaked and the bolster fell 
to the floor. 

Then up the cavernous backstairs came the 
peal of the front door bell. We heard Mary 
Ellen drop the poker and run through the house. 
It was an unheard of hour for the front door 
bell to ring. We sat up in bed in stiffened at- 
titudes of expectancy. Mary Ellen was mount- 
ing the front stair. She rapped loudly at Mrs. 
Handsomebody's bedroom door. There were 
whispers. Then Mrs. Handsomebody's voice 
came decidedly: 

**Go about your work with the utmost speed. 
Say nothing to the boys of this. I shall tell 
them when they have had their breakfast." 

In a moment she appeared at our door in her 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

purple dressing-gown, an expression of repressed 
excitement on her face. A sunbeam slanting 
through the passage rested on the fringe of curl- 
papers about her head so that she looked like 
some elderly saint wearing a rather ragged halo. 

"I have received news," she announced, with 
more than usual firmness, "which will make it 
necessary for us to rise immediately. Dress as 
quickly as you can, and help your little brother. 
What a state you have got that bed into I You 
deserve to be punished." She stood for a 
moment, her eyes resting on us with a curious 
look, then, with a sigh, she turned away and went 
back to her room. 

At breakfast she still wore her dressing-gown, 
an unprecedented laxity. Beside her on the table- 
cloth lay a crumpled piece of buff paper. So it 
was by telegram that the news had come. In- 
stantly I thought. The telegram is from father. 
He is coming home. Maybe he is on his way. 
In London even 1 The food would not go down 
my throat. Shudders of excitement shook me. 

I looked at Angel. Taking advantage of Mrs. 
Handsomebody's absorption he was spreading a 
second spoonful of sugar over his porridge. 
The Seraph was staring, spoon in hand, into Mrs. 
Handsomebody's set face. He said — 

"Mrs. Handsomebody, if I was to smile at you, 
would you smile back at me ?" 


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The New Day 

''Alexander/' replied Mrs. Handsomebody» 
*'I hope I have never been found wanting in cour- 
tesy. But, at present, I should prefer to see you 
eat your breakfast with as much speecj as possi* 
ble. John, eat your porridge." 

"I can't, please." 

''Eat it instantly, sir." 

"I can't," I repeated, beginning to blubber, "I 
want to see father!" 

"Eat your porridge and you shall see him. 
He will be here at ten o'clock. Silence, now, no 
uproar. My nerves are under quite enough 
strain." She poured herself fresh tea, and con- 
tinued : 

"There will be no tasks today. After break- 
fast you will put on your best jackets and collars, 
and sit in the parlour until he arrives. I implore 
you to be as composed as possible." 

The questions that poured from us were 
hushed by a gesture of her inflexible, white hand. 
Dazed by the news, we were herded back to our 
bedroom, hurried into stiff white collars and 
hustled into shining Sunday shoes. There was 
the sound of cold water tinkling in the basin; of 
straining bootlaces; and of the creaking of a 
loose board in the floor every time Mary Ellen 
stepped on it. Scarcely a^ word was spoken. 
Now that what we had so long strained towards 
was at hand we stood breathless before the im- 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

mensity of it. The long year and nine months 
at Mrs. Handsomebody's fell like a heavy curtain 
between us and the past. Our father's face had 
grown hazy to us. I think The Seraph only pre- 
tended to remember. His coming had been held 
over our heads so long, as a time of swift retri- 
bution, that a feeling of doubt, almost terror, 
mingled with our joy. 

At last we were ready. With shining faces, 
burning ears, and quickly tapping hearts, we went 
soberly down the stairs. The door of the par- 
lour stood wide'-^pen. Mrs. Handsomebody, 
herself, was dusting the case of stuffed birds, 
whose plumage, sadly thinned by the attentions 
of Coppertoes, seemed to quiver with expectancy. 

We were instructed to wait inside the iron 
gate, at the front, until train time, when we were 
to be recalled to the parlour, and take our places 
on three chairs, already ranged in a row for us. 
Thus we were to be displayed by Mrs. Hand- 
somebody, to our sire. 

We found Granfa polishing the brass on the 
front door, his white locks bobbing as he rubbed. 

"Oh, Granfa," we cried, "have you heard the 

"Ess fay," he replied, straightening his back, 
"for thiccy Mary Ellen came a-galloping at top 
speed to ask me to shine the brasses for 'ee, know- 

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The New Day 

ing I have a wonderful art that way. The poor 
Zany was all in a mizmaze." 

**Are you glad father's coming?" 

"Glad! I be so joyful as a, bulfinch in spring- 
time. See how the very face of Natur' be lit up 
for. the grand occasion." 

The sky had, indeed, become deeply blue, and 
a great pink cloud hung above the Cathedral like 
a welcoming banner. There had been frost in 
the night forming thin ice over the puddles in the 
road. All those reflected the serene pink of the 
cloud, a blue pigeon picked his way delicately 
among them. A sweet-smelling wind swayed the 
moist brown limbs of the elm trees. All the 
world seemed like a great organ attuned to joy. 

"Suppose," suggested Angel, "that we just race 
around to the cobbler's and tell him the news. 
The Dragon is too busy to miss us." 

The very thing! It would take only a few 
minutes and would be something to do to pass 
the time. Softly we slipped through the iron 
gate; lightly we hastened along the shining wet 
street; under the shadow of the Cathedral, whose 
spire seemed to taper to the sky; down narrow, 
winding Henwood Street till we reached the cob- 
bler's shop. 

Martindale was standing in the open door his 
face raised as though he were drinking in the 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

fragrance of the morning. A chorus of bird 
song came from inside. 

"Hallo, Mr. Martindale," Angel shouted. 
"What do you suppose? Father's coming 

"He'll be here in less than two hours," I 

The cobbler put a dark hand on a shoulder of 
each. "That's grand news, little masters," he 
said. "But I hope he won't take you so far away 
that I shall never see you. The birds like you 
too. They never sing so loud as when you are 
in the shop." 

While he was speaking we heard footsteps com- 
ing quickly down Henwood street around the cor- 
ner. They were quick, sharp footsteps that rang 
on the frosty air. "It's curious," said the cob- 
ble^, "how footsteps sound here. I think it's the 
Cathedral walls that give that ringing sound." 

We turned to watch for the approaching pedes- 
trian. We wondered who he was that walked 
with such an eager, springing step. He turned 
the corner. He faced us. Then he laughed out 
loud and said, "Hello I" 

We were, for a second, simply staggered. We 
made incoherent noises like young animals. 
Then we were snatched by rough tweed arms, a 
small, stiff moustache rasped our cheeks, and — 
"Father!" we squealed, at last, in chorus. 

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The New Day 

"1 found 1 could catch an early train," he said, 
"so I just hopped on, for I was in a desperate 
hurry to see you. What are you doing here, at 
this hour?" He stared at the cobbler. 

*This is Mr. Martindale," I explained. "He 
mends our boots, and tells us stories, and he's got 
a bird named Coppertoes." 

"So you are a friend of my boys," said father. 

"Ay. And they're grand little lads, sir. I 
have a daughter of my own I'm very proud of, 
sir. She was lost for seventeen years, and your 
sons helped me to find her." 

His daughter came to the door then to call him 
to breakfast. She had a yellow braid over each 
shoulder, and Coppertoes was sitting on her wrist 
with a piece of chickweed in his bill. Father 
stopped to admire them both. 

"By George," he said, when we had left them, 
"if all your friends are as interesting as those, I 
should like to meet them." 

"They are that," I said, happily, "and here's 
another of them." 

It was Granfa, standing at the gate, his blue 
eyes staring with amazement. He raised his 
broom to his shoulder and stood at attention as 
we drew near. 

"What a sight for the nation 1" he exclaimed. 
"Welcome home my dear son-in-law. I be terri- 
ble proud to hand my charges over to 'ee. Us 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

have got along famous while you was over to 
South Ameriky." 

I trembled for feaf father should say some- 
thing to hurt Granfa's feelings, but he semed to 
understand him at once, and shook him by the 
hand, and made him a present of some tobacco 
on the spot. 


"Merciful Heaven I" screamed Mrs. Hand- 
somebody. "Davy I" "Mr. CurzonI" She 
clutched her curl-papers in one hand and the 
front of her purple wrapper in the other. "We 
did not expect you for an hour yet." 

Father laughed. "Well, I've saved you some 
of the trouble of preparing by coming early. 
How very well you are looking. And how well- 
cared-for the children. I'm delighted. I think 
I shall take them over to the hotel where my 
luggage has been sent and have a talk with them 
and come back later. Will that suit you?" 

But Mrs. Handsomebody insisted that he have 
a proper breakfast, and installed us in the par- 
lour while she retired to assume the decent 
armour of the day. 

Father sat facing the stuffed birds. He put 
The Seraph on his knee, and Angel and I hung 
on either side of him. We were suddenly shy of 
him, and it seemed enough to be near him, and to 


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The New Day 

feel the all-surrounding pdwer and protection of 
him. His cheeks were incredibly sun-browned, 
with a ruddy glow beneath; his moustache and 
the hair at his temples were almost golden. I 
liked the greenish grey of his tweed suit that 
seemed to match his clear, wide-open eyes. 

He made a wry face at the stuffed birds and 
then he whispered: "Old chaps, have you been 
happy here?" 

We nodded. The past was gone. What did 
it matter! "Oh, but, we want to be wiv youl 
Don't leave us," breathed The Seraph, burrowing 
his face into the rough tweed shoulder. 

Angel and I burrowed against him too. "Don't 
leave us again," we whispered. 

He began to kiss us, and to rumple our heads, 
and to bite The Seraph's cheek. The Seraph, 
drunk with joy, jumped down, and pulling open 
the door of the glass case tried to drag a love- 
bird from its perch to present to father. We 
were just able to stop him when our governess 

She was dignified and smiling, in black satin 
and a gold chain. Mary Ellen had the breakfast 
laid in the dining-room and we sat about him, 
watching him eat. With what admiration we be- 
held his masterful attack on the bacon and eggsl 
It became awe when we saw the quantity of mar- 
malade that he spread upon his toast. 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

And Mrs. Handsomebody beamed fatuously 
at him! 

Between mouthfuls he talked. "Do you re- 
member how I used to call you Wiggle? And 
the time I hid the white rat in your bonnet box?" 

Mrs. Handsomebody cackled. The Seraph 
kicked the table leg, unreproved. I drifted after 
Mary Ellen to the kitchen. "Isn't he fine?" I 

"Divil a finer," agreed she. 

"And 'tis yersilf, Masther John," she added, 
"is the very spit av him. Shure it's you should 
be the proud bye." 

"And, Mary !Ellen, you are to come and live 
with us, you know, and have all the 'followers' 
you want." 

"Och," she laughed, "I'm done wid followers, 
me dear. To tell ye the truth, Mr. Watlin and 
I are plannin' to git hitched up, before the New 
Year. An uncle of his have died and left him 
enough to start him in the butcherin' business on 
his own account. So maybe you'll dance at me 
weddin' yet." 

"I'll give you a nice present, Mary Ellen, 
dear," I promised, putting my arm around her. 

"lYes," she went on, squeezing me, "and the 
cook next door was tellin' me last night, that the 
word is goin' about that Miss Margery an' 
Misther Harry is engaged too. So there's love 


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The New Day 

in the air, Masther John. D'ye mind the time 
'twas yersilf was in love wid little Miss Jane? 
Bless yer little heart." 

I fled back to the dining-room. 

Mary Ellen was now dispatched to blow her 
whistle for a hansom, and almost before we real- 
ized it we found ourselves rolling smoothly to the 
hotel where father was to stay. 

Next, we were in his very room, exploring, 
with adventurous fingers, all his admirable, 
tobacco-smelling belongings. When his back was 
turned, Angel even unsheathed his razor and 
flourished it, for one hair-lifting second. But 
father caught him and promised that he should 
become acquainted with the razor-strop also, if 
he grew too bold. 

We went out and bought chocolates and toys 
and brought them back to his room to play with. 
The morning passed in a delicious dream. Then 
luncheon downstairs with him, the eyes of many 
people on us. 

Among them I discovered, before long, the 
laughing blue eyes of Lady Simon. She was not 
looking at me, but very eagerly at father, as 
though she were trying to make him see her. In 
a moment she succeeded, and, without a word of 
explanation to us he jumped up and strode across 
to the table where she and Lord Simon sat. 
The Seraph ran after him and was gathered into 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

her arms while she smiled and talked to father 
over his curls. 

"Wonder if she's askin' him for another lapis 
lazarus necklace," said Angel, his mouth full of 
charlotte russe, "she'd better not, 'cos we're all he 
can afford now." 

I did not like the idea either, so when father 
came back with The Sereaph hanging to his coat 
tails, I remarked, with some asperity: 

"She said you nearly ruined yourself once to 
buy her a pair of cream-coloured ponies." 

"Yes, and a lapis lazarus necklace," added An- 
gel, accusingly. 

"I want a cweam-cuUed pony I" shouted The 

Father leaned over us with almost the expres- 
sion of Mrs. Handsomebody in his eye. 

"You shall all have ponies," he said, "any old 
colour you like, cream, or pink, or blue, if you'll 
shut up and be good." 

Dazzled by the vision of a herd of rainbow- 
coloured ponies we suffered ourselves to be led 
in silence from the dining-room. Outside, father 
said, still with the look of Mrs. Handsomebody 
in his eye: 

"I have to make a call on a lady in Argyle 
Road, my godmother. Do you feel prepared to 
come, and be good boys, or shall I send you back 
to your governess ?" 


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The New Day 

"Argyle Road!'' excUimed Angel. ^That's 
where Giftie lived." 

**Want to see Giftie I" came from The Seraph, 
'*and Colin." 

"Are you going to be good?" 

"Rather," said Angel. "Please take us." 

Another hansom was called. We were quite 
prepared to see it stop before the large square 
house where Giftie lived. It stopped. There 
was a clamour of barks from three Scottish ter- 
riers as we entered the gate. In a second I had 
Giftie in my arms; her little, hard wriggling body 
pressed to my breast; her little red tongue show- 
ing between her pointed white teeth. She was 
wild with the joy of welcoming us, but Colin 
walked solemnly away, his tail very much in the 
air. The third dog I felt sure was one of Giftie's 
pups. "His name is Tam," shouted the tall grey- 
haired lady, having suddenly appeared, and I 
discovered then that we were in the drawing-room, 
and pulled off my cap, and smiled up at her. 

"I've been saving him for you," she went on, 
"hoping you would turn up. The other two are 
sold. But Tam is for you boys, and oh, Davy," 
turning to father, "you must let me have them 
for Christmas. We shall have an enormous 
Christmas Tree, and lookl it's beginning to 

It was true. Great white flakes were softly 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

whirling past the windows, shutting us away from 
the outer world. The fire seemed to burn the 
brighter for them, the air seemed full of happiness 
and gay adventure. We bent over our new pos- 
session on the hearthrug in ecstasy. Tam, in fero- 
cious playfulness, tried to show us all part of his 
body at once. But when we overcame him, and 
pinned him down, he lay limply, with his tongue 
out at one side, and the promise of many a future 
romp in his roguish brown eyes. Giftie brought 
a woollen bedroom slipper from upstairs to worry 
for our amusement. Even Colin grew friendly. 
The talk went on above our heads, the far-off 
talk of grown-ups. But stay — ^it was not so in- 
comprehensible after all I What was it she was 
saying? A pantomime I A deserving Charity. 
Had tickets. Suppose we take the children. 
Would it bore Davy? Davy said it wouldn't. 

Was all our new life to be a whirl like this? 
Now we were back in the hansom cab bowling 
through the madly dancing snowflakes. Now we 
were back at Mrs. Handsomebody's having tea 
with a double portion of jam; being scrubbed and 
brushed, and warned of our behaviour, sliding 
on the slippery soles of new boots; sniffing the 
fresh linin of clean handkerchiefs; watching Mrs. 
Handsomebody tie her bonnet strings with trem- 
bling fingers. 

In a four-wheeler now, squeezed very closely 

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The New Day 

together; the wheels moving heavily through the 
ever-deepening snow; lights flashing by the snowy 
windows, father's leg and boot pressing against 
me cruelly but giving a delicious sense of pro- 
tection and good fellowship. Then the blazing 
light, and heat, and pressing crowd of the lobby; 
a sense of terror lest the pompous man who took 
tickets would refuse to accept those tendered by 
father; immense relief, as a thin, bounding in- 
dividual led us down the sloping aisle. Father's 
guiding hand on our shoulders; we were in our 

On my right sat father, and beyond him Angel. 
On my left The Seraph and Mrs. Handsomebody, 
her hands clasped tensely in her lap. But who 
was that in the golden light beyond Angel? Who 
indeed but our old friend Captain Pegg who had 
come, it appeared, with Giftie's mistress. Lucky 
Angel to be next him, laughing and whispering 
with him I Then, lucky me to be pushed between 
the seats to shake his hand. 

"Shiver my timbers, John," he whispered, "but 
I have great days to tell you ofl Days of 
plunder and bloodshed, my hearty. I went back 
to the old life, for a while, you know. Look 
here !" He drew aside his coat and around his 
waist I saw that he wore a belt of alligator skin 
into which was thrust a cufved and glittering 
bowie knife I 


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Explorers of the Dawn 

The curtain was going up. I was pulled back 
into my seat. My pulses throbbed as scene by 
scene the pantomime was disclosed before my 
happy eyes. Here was I, John Curzon, part of 
quite as good a play as yon. Pirates, love, flut- 
tering banners, swashbuckling clowns, life 
stretched before me, a jolly adventure with Angel 
and The Seraph always there to share the fun. 
Now the Seraph's head had dropped to Mrs. 
Handsomebody's lap. He was half asleep. Her 
black kid hand patted his back. She was gazing 
with a rapt smile at the stage. 

The pantomime was nearly over. The night 
of danger and dark alarm was past. Rosy morn- 
ing broke upon the mountain side, and Columbine, 
reclining in a pearl-pink shell, opened her eyes and 
smiled upon a flowery world. 

I felt father's cheek against my head. His 
hand covered mine. He whispered: 

**Happy, John?" 

I nodded, clutching his fingers. And so we 
met the New Day together. 



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